Examining inalienable human rights and corporate rights.

Ultimate Teach-In:
Who Rules? Understanding the Journey

Based on Lessons 3 and 4 of Activating My Democracy, these workshops offer a fresh perspective on American history through the lens of landmark laws that shaped our society and the balance of power during our democracy journey. We recommend attending both webinars for the complete lesson.

Learning Objectives

Upon completion, participants will be able to:

  • Understand and describe two persistent internal threats to our democracy, based on internal weaknesses in human nature
  • Explain how the concept of “person” under law has changed over time from a business model to an artificial entity and the social consequences of this legal theory
  • Give examples of harm to real people when artificial persons exercise fundamental rights under 5th Amendment regulatory takings and eminent domain seizures and under 1st Amendment free speech

Part 1

Nov. 27 and 28, first 160 years: Participants critically examine the conceptual framework of our democracy to understand the internal threats institutionalized in the founding documents and, later, the Civil War Amendments. Participants are introduced to “artificial persons” that existed at the time of founding and then explore how the young government attempted to control this entity.

Feature Activities

  • Partner activity: “‘Person’ – What did the Founders mean?”
  • Small group activity: “Exploring the timeline, 1789–1819”
  • Small group activity: “Exploring the timeline, 1803–1886”
  • Small group activities: “Exploring the timeline, 1893–1947”

Sharing Activities

  • Scaffolding four infographics for activities and discussion of partner activity (20 min)
  • Share “Exploring the timeline, 1789–1819” findings and group discussion to create overall narrative (30 min)
  • Share “Exploring the timeline, 1803–1886” findings and group discussion to create overall narrative (30 min)
  • Share “Exploring the timeline, 1893–1947” findings and group discussion to create overall narrative (30 min)

Part 2

Dec. 4 and 5, last 70 years: After the Civil Rights movements of the 1950s–1970s, participants are introduced to the 1971 Powell Memo and the resulting strategic ongoing campaign by the “Monied Power” to secure control of the government. Participants reflect on the journey and create their own narrative of who rules.

Feature Activities

  • Small group activity: “Exploring the timeline, 1954–1970s”
  • Small group activity: “Exploring the timeline, 1976–2014”
  • Small group activity: “Exploring the timeline, 2001–2016”
  • Partner activity with support questions: “Creating a narrative”
  • Individual reflection activity: “How might you use this in your classroom?”

Sharing Activities

  • Share “Exploring the timeline, 1954–1970s” findings and group discussion to create overall narrative (30 min)
  • Share “Exploring the timeline, 1976–2014” findings and group discussion to create overall narrative (30 min)
  • Share “Exploring the timeline, 2001–2016” findings and group discussion to create overall narrative (30 min)
  • Group sharing of narratives (15 min)
  • Share ideas and suggestions on using timeline in classroom (15 min)
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