Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness?
Lois M. Christensen
Melissa G. Whetstone
University of Alabama at Birmingham
Although the civil rights movement in the United States occurred more than 50 years ago, voter suppression, as witnessed in the 2012 election, for diverse groups of people continues. The information presented in this article supports the teaching and learning of social studies within early childhood and elementary grades as teachers and students consider and examine issues and problems concerning those who have been disenfranchised as voters within the United States. The use of historic role models, artwork, musical lyrics, and primary documents are various ways to assist young learners as they analyze and confront controversial issues such as discrimination within a pluralistic society. Through research, young learners can construct narratives from the present to make meaning from historical figures, events, and places of the past. Children’s understandings of historical people and events that took action against discriminatory practices and opportunities to expand learning about the topic may enable them to take the lead to make our democracy a reality for life, liberty and happiness.