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Dr Martin Luther King, Jr leads Clergyme

Martin Luther King, Jr. leads a march to Ratcliffe Stadium for a Witness of Faith for Freedom Rally on June 1, 1964. Leading the march, left to right, are Bernard Lee, special assistant to Rev. King; Rev. Henry Mitchell, rally chairman; Rev. King; Rev. Robert Moon of the First Methodist Church; and Mayor Wallace D. Henderson, among others. The rally at the stadium drew 3,000 attendees. The Fresno Bee Editorial Library. June 2, 1964. Fresno County Historical Society Archives.



Why We're Great >

The lessons found here focus on the Civil Rights Era with materials that are directly accessible for teachers and students alike. These lessons bring pivotal moments in national history home to the San Joaquin Valley. Each lesson makes history relevant by connecting it to current social issues. These lesson kits combine a detailed and adaptable lesson plan with several primary sources gathered from local archival collections and newspapers. This curriculum was developed as part of the Reimagine Educating: American Civics and History Academies for Better Learning and Engagement Grant in partnership with California State University, Fresno . 


Educator and leader of the Fresno NAACP, Mattie B. Meyers was a prominent activist for educational and housing equality in the 1960s. She spoke at hearings held by the U.S. House of Representatives, and was responsible for bringing Martin Luther King, Jr. to Fresno in June 1964. This lesson will help students understand her fight to improve educational opportunities for Fresno’s African American community. She advocated for an end to de facto segregation in Southwest Fresno and participated in integration busing debates. Students will be able to define redlining and describe how it fostered educational and economic disparities then and now. Students will connect to the people who fought for equal rights in the central San Joaquin Valley to the national Civil Rights Movement, including the activities of Martin Luther King Jr., Brown v. Board of Education, and the Fair Housing Act of 1968.

This is designed as a local supplement to a broader foundational lesson.

Fresno redlining map, 1936 with director

City of Fresno Home Owners’ Loan Corporation Map, December 7, 1936. T-RACES, University of Maryland.


In the 1960s and 1970s, Chicano organizations flourished in Fresno; new chapters of national organizations and groups that responded to the unique conditions in the Valley. These Chicano groups fought for farm worker’s rights, political representation, women’s rights, and student issues. Chicano student organizations  encouraged activism to improve economic and educational opportunities, and end discrimination. In this lesson, students will identify the concerns of Chicano youth organizations at Fresno State College and become familiar with the tactics they used to fight for their beliefs. Students will connect the activities of students at Fresno State to the events of the national Chicano Movement, such as the first National Chicano Youth Conference organized by Rodolfo “Corky” Gonzales at Denver in March 1969. Students will also be able to relate the activities of the local Chicano Movement to the ongoing struggle for social justice for Mexican Americans and Mexican immigrants. 

This is designed as a local supplement to a broader foundational lesson.

Accept Me for What I Am Chicano girls -

Chicano marchers, circa 1968. George Ballis Photograph. 

Courtesy of Arte Americas.


The communities of the central San Joaquin Valley experienced the Vietnam War in many different ways. Some went to fight for their country, either drafted or volunteers. Some were forced to fight for their homeland and then became refugees when the war ended. Some joined organizations like the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom to protest the war. These same experiences were felt across the country during this pivotal time in American history. Using primary sources from oral histories to song lyrics, this lesson is designed to help students connect the local experience of the war to this national narrative. Students will be able to understand the mass immigration of the Southeast Asian refugee community to the central San Joaquin Valley in the wake of the war. Students will also understand the perspective of those who were involved in the war through protest or service.

This is designed as a local supplement to a broader foundational lesson.

Vietnam War Protest in Fresno, c

Vietnam War protest in downtown Fresno, circa 1970. 

Fresno County Historical Society. 


The fight for ratification of the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA) began a century ago when Alice Paul first penned the amendment in 1923.  Women’s Liberation Movement arose out of the national Civil Rights struggle, and second-wave feminists took up the ERA again in the 1960s. The ERA was passed by Congress in 1972 and sent to be ratified by the states. It was a highly contentious topic with organizations rallying to get it passed or to stop it. By 1982, the ERA had failed to receive the required 3/4 majority needed to pass. Since then, the ERA has had little political support until Virginia became the last state needed to ratify the amendment on January 15, 2020. In this lesson, students will use local newspaper articles and national sources to understand both sides of the Equal Rights Amendment debate then and now. Students will be separated into four teams to debate the issue. Each group is responsible for developing an argument using evidence from the primary source material and secondary sources provided. Students will learn the significance of amending the U.S. Constitution and immerse themselves in the various issues that continue to spur debate around the ERA.

This is designed as a local supplement to a broader foundational lesson.

Stop Reganism March on Fresno County Cou

Stop Reganism March and Rally at Fresno's Courthouse Park, May 22, 1982. Courtesy of the Howard K. Watkins Photographic Archive. 


Immigration is a fundamental part of many Americans experience. This country was built by the labor of immigrants. Evolving immigration laws reflected prevailing prejudices amid our struggle to find our national identity. In 1965, the federal Immigration and Nationality Act allowed for family sponsorship and opened the United States to immigration from previously restricted countries. In this lesson, students will analyze the changes in United States immigration after the Immigration Act of 1965. They will be assigned a demographic group and use the sources provided to write an essay summarizing their research. Students will format their essays in the style of a personal narrative from the perspective of an immigrant coming to the central San Joaquin Valley in the 1970s. Students will gain a more personal understanding of the push/pull factors for immigration. Students are also directed to include the immigrant experience as they struggle to adapt to another culture in a new country, including lack of resources and discrimination. This lesson will help students to connect the evolving national immigration experience to local immigrant stories in California and the central San Joaquin Valley.

This is designed as a local supplement to a broader foundational lesson.


“The Hmong: A Struggle in the Sun.” Special Edition. The Fresno Bee, circa 1985. Mabelle Selland Research Papers, Fresno County Historical Society.


Katy at the Office
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Archivist Katy Hogue is dedicated to the 

preservation of the  collections in the Society's archives. She is passionate about local history and enjoys creating new programs and events to share the Society's historical resources with the public. A Fresno native, Katy has a MA in History from Fresno State where her research focused on  the American West.

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Project Assistant Cami Cipolla has been a committed member of this team since 2018. She is also the Operations Manager for Forestiere Underground Gardens, Historic Landmark #916. Cami has her BA in History and Philosophy and is completing her MA in Public History in Fall 2020. Cami is passionate about Ancient Greek and Ancient Roman histories, spending time with her daughter, and the Food Network. 

Many thanks to the following for their generous contributions to this project.


Educator Mary Ann Englehart

Arte Americas

Special Collections Research Center, CSU, Fresno

Howard K. Watkins Photographic Archive

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