Youth-led Desegregation Movements

Youth served a unique role in national and local desegregation movements. In this module, participants share personal narratives regarding tense interactions at Hoopers Restaurant in Baltimore and more subtle experiences at Cove Restaurant. These oral histories highlight some of the national implications of desegregation.

Tips for using this module in your classroom

Essential Question

How do you think events, history, or these personal narratives would have been different if either Mr. Robert M. Bell or Ms. Frances Gill did not attempt to be served lunch?


Documentary Clip 1

Discussion questions:
  • Why do you think the university was recruiting juveniles to participate in their protests and sit-ins?
  • What was unique about Baltimore City laws?
  • What was the ultimate result of Mr. Robert M. Bell’s protests?
  • How did he change or influence American history?

Documentary Clip 2

Discussion questions:
  • What was hypocritical about Ms. Frances Gill’s library job?
  • What are ways that she was not considered equal?
  • Where were the places Ms. Frances Gill was not allowed to go?
  • What did Ms. Frances Gill decide to do one day at Cove Restaurant? What was the end result?

Supplemental Enrichment Activites

History of Bell v. Maryland
Panelists discuss the historical importance of the Bell v. Maryland case (focused time 5:23- 11:00.) At the end of the clip, Mr. Robert M. Bell shares his accounts of the historic civil rights case to the audience.
14th Amendment collection
View the Library of Congress site to see Primary Source documents relating to the 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

Reflection Questions
  • Speculate whether or not social change and policy would have occured in Baltimore restaurants if either Mr. Robert M. Bell and Ms. Frances Gill had not attempted to be served lunch.
  • What are ways that small, courageous decisions bring about social change? Have you ever experienced this in your own life?


  • CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.SL.9-10.1 : Initiate and participate effectively in a range of collaborative discussions (one-on-one, in groups, and teacher-led) with diverse partners on grades 9-10 topics, texts, and issues, building on others' ideas and expressing their own clearly and persuasively. (Grades 9/10)
  • CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.SL.9-10.1.C : Propel conversations by posing and responding to questions that relate the current discussion to broader themes or larger ideas; actively incorporate others into the discussion; and clarify, verify, or challenge ideas and conclusions. (Grades 9/10)
  • D2.His.1.9-12 : Evaluate how historical events and developments were shaped by the unique circumstances of the time and place, as well as by broader historical contexts.
  • D2.His.4.9-12 : Analyze complex and interacting factors that influenced the perspective of people during different historical eras.