Teaching Students About the American Equal Rights Association
The American Equal Rights Association (AERA) was a pioneering organization instrumental in the struggle for equal rights and liberties for all citizens regardless of race or gender. Founded in 1866, AERA played a major role in advocating for women’s suffrage and African American civil rights. Teaching students about the AERA is essential to understanding the historical context that shaped modern America. In this article, we will provide tips on how educators can effectively incorporate lessons on the AERA into their curriculum.
1. Historical Background:
Before diving into the AERA, it’s crucial to establish a strong foundation in the historical context surrounding its creation. This can be achieved by covering topics such as abolitionism, suffrage movements, the Civil War, and Reconstruction. Providing students with a general overview before moving into specifics will help them grasp the significance of equal rights movements during that time.
2. Key Players and Their Contributions:
Introduce students to notable figures involved in the formation and operation of the AERA. Some prominent members included Susan B. Anthony, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Frederick Douglass, Lucy Stone, and Henry Blackwell. Discuss each person’s unique contributions and perspectives on equality and civil rights, highlighting both shared goals and differences in approaches.
3. The Role of AERA:
Detail the organization’s objectives and methods when advocating for equal rights across different social groups – women’s suffrage and African American civil rights being their primary focus initially. Teachers can also emphasize that AERA played a significant part in spreading awareness about intersectionality between gender- and race-based inequalities long before it became part of contemporary discourse.
4. Challenges Faced:
To help students understand the difficulties faced by AERA members, discuss some internal conflicts that emerged within the organization over time (such as disagreements between some white suffragists & Black civil rights leaders). Furthermore, teachers could elaborate on AERA’s dissolution in 1869 and the subsequent formation of new groups such as the National Woman Suffrage Association and the American Woman Suffrage Association.
5. Lasting Impact and Legacy:
Lastly, discuss the enduring impact of AERA’s mission on American society, including how it laid the groundwork for future civil rights movements in the United States. Teachers can also encourage students to consider the long-term effects of intersectional activism and how it has evolved over time.
Tackling topics like the American Equal Rights Association may prove challenging due to their complex nature. However, by focusing on historical context, key players, organizational roles, challenges faced, and lasting impact, educators can provide students with a comprehensive understanding of this pivotal organization that reshaped America’s struggle for equality and rights.