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Walnut valley Unified School District

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Let’s Talk Civil Rights!

March 28, 2019

By Kelli Gile, WVUSD Office of Community Resources


DIAMOND BAR, CA--Diamond Bar High AP U.S. History students wrapped up studies on four decades of Americana with historical talk shows staged this week.


The performance project gives students the opportunity to reflect on the themes of the Cold War, Civil Rights, Social Changes, and Political Leadership during the 1950s-1980s, according to social studies teacher Lindsay Arnold.


The junior-level class was divided into four groups, one for each theme, and given the task of creating a talk show featuring influential people from the time period.


Students researched, scripted, and memorized talking points for the enactment that included historical video clips and theme music.


The Civil Rights show that “aired” Wednesday featured a wide range of leaders from the movement and a few people who were against the movement to reflect the different points of view in the country at that time.  


Students portrayed feminist Betty Friedan, the Black Panther political party, Chief Justice Earl Warren, and more.


“There’s a lot about him that I wanted to communicate,” said Jolynn Zhangwho represented Malcom X, the controversial human rights advocate.


She flawlessly performed five minutes of witty dialogue in a black suit and tie with a penciled-in mustache and beard.


“I’m in drama so I’m used to memorizing a lot of lines!” she said.


Guests were greeted with cheers and jeers from fellow classmates and tackled unscripted questions at the end of each segment.


Junior Mark Tan portrayed Arkansas Governor Orval Faubus who refused to comply with the U.S. Supreme Court in the 1954 case Brown v. Board of Education.


The classroom audience erupted with a round of “boos” as he made his entrance on the set.


“I knew it would be a challenge because I had to act like a racist. But, I was up for it!” he said.

“As students found out during their research, not all of the leaders agreed with each other which led to some dramatic moments on the talk show,” Arnold commented. 


“It was nerve wracking to memorize everything and correctly say it in front of everyone,” said Valerie Wester who played farm worker activist Cesar Chavez.


Tiffany Chang portrayed civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr. and delivered part of the iconic “I Have a Dream” speech during her interview.


“It was really meaningful,” she said.


The social influencers show held Thursday featured Elvis, a 1950s housewife, and Senator Joseph McCarthy, with the final shows highlighting the Cold War and U.S. Presidents.


“I love doing projects where I get out of the way,” Arnold said about the historical talk show assignment.


After a decade in education, Arnold said that she’s learned to trust the higher-level AP students who are very responsible and motivated.


“And they end up producing something better than I could have imagined!”



Diamond Bar High AP U.S. History students present a talk show featuring prominent civil rights leaders on March 27.


Cast of characters! Diamond Bar High AP U.S. History students get in character to present a civil rights-themed talk show on March 27.