Interactive Toolkit and Digital Resources for Liberation Classrooms


“School curricula pay lip service to Black history, but Puerto Ricans didn’t make the cut.
Martin Luther King is an icon on a postage stamp, no longer part of an ongoing mass movement;
but the struggle for human and civil rights did not end at his death… We were  there, and a
body of our work remains, mostly unpublished until now, scattered about the country in old trunks,
closets, and a few libraries, and on microfilm, waiting patiently to see the light of day,
to give testimony to our struggle.”        

– Iris Morales and Denise Oliver-Velez,
The Young Lords, A Reader, 2010

This digital and analogue teaching resource for New York City educators brings together pedagogical resources, a sample curriculum, and detailed instructions for creating a classroom “People’s Suitcase” that highlights the histories of people of color led social movements. This toolkit offers a hands on way for students to connect with the history of their neighborhood and community, and imagine a more just and equal future for themselves and their neighbors.

The sample curriculum and the resources on this website are related directly to the geographical area of East Harlem, El Barrio. Its main pedagogical goal is to situate East Harlem youth into just a few of many possible streams of collective political history and culture of El Barrio, including The Young Lords of East Harlem and The Black Panthers.

While the curriculum was designed with the youth of El Barrio in mind, the “People’s Suitcase” can work in any classroom located in any community or neighborhood in the United States. The Toolkit is a unique kind of shareable, accessible resource that can be modified to fit local historical contexts for educators interested in integrating issues of social justice into their curricula by linking up the archival and historical resources here with current social justice work underway in your own community. Toolkit Design: Amanda Matles, Sonía Sanchez, Laurie Hurson.

Common Core

The curriculum aligns with New York State common core standards and includes activities for visual, kinesthetic, tactile, and auditory learners. It is meant to strengthen student’s critical thinking and communication skills about primary historical images and documents. The toolkit focuses on the fascinating and often under or mis represented legacy of collective social justice movements of the Civil Rights era, highlighting the role of young women and men who developed  just community controlled programs that supported and transformed their communities.

Time Required:

1 week (about 1 activity per day, 4 activities)

Recommended Grade Level

  • 6th-8th Grade


  • US History
  • Social Studies
  • English
  • Geography
  • Urban Studies
  • Civics

Common Core Standards

  • Participating in group planning and discussion
  • Using the vocabulary of time and place
  • Placing events in chronological order
  • Understanding concepts of time, continuity, and change
  • drawing inferences and making conclusions
  • decoding images (graphs, cartoons, photos)
  • Placing events in chronological order
  • Understanding concepts of time, continuity, and change
  • Drawing inferences
  • Looking for patterns
  • Interpreting information
  • Supporting a position
  • Making predictions
  • Drawing conclusions


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