Modern Advocates for Change

9, 10, 11, 12

Learners will recognize persons who might be considered modern day prophets or advocates for social justice and explain how they have made considerable contributions toward the common good.

PrintTwo To Five Forty-Five Minute Class Periods

The learner will:

  • generate a list of modern day prophets and evaluate them as true or false prophets.
  • describe why some humans will sacrifice for the benefit of others.
  • advocate a solution for a societal problem.
  • Recording of the movie Romero (see Bibliographical References)
  • Handouts or notes on social justice from Lesson One: What Is Your Gripe, and A True Prophet Versus A False Prophet from Lesson Two: Being A Prophet: Traits of the Trade
  • Completed Family Survey from Lesson Two: Being A Prophet: Traits of the Trade
  • Advocacy Letter Rubric (see Handout One)
  • Dead Man Walking. Produced and directed by Tim Robbins. USA Films, 1999
  • Ghosts of Mississippi. Produced and directed by Rob Reiner. Castle Rock Films, 2002
  • Long Walk Home. Produced and directed by Richard Pearce. Artisan Entertainment, 2002
  • Romero. Produced and directed by John Duigan. Vidmark/Trimark, 1994
  • With Honors. Produced and Directed by Alek Keshishian. Warner Studios, 1998


  1. Anticipatory Set:

    Review the definition of a prophet (a person who has taken a stand to speak out against social injustice; a person who has been recognized as an advocate for specific justice causes).

  2. Show a clip of Romero, an El Salvadoran bishop who becomes a champion of the poor and oppressed when he sees the brutality of his country's repressive government. (Teacher’s Note: The following movies would also set a tone: The Ghost of Medgar Evers; A Long Walk Home about the bus boycott; With Honors about a homeless person befriended by Harvard learners; Dead Man Walking about the death penalty.) Try to choose a clip that shows the character speaking out against injustice. Following the video, ask for learners’ opinion about whether or not the person portrayed was acting as a prophet or advocate. Allow five to ten minutes for comments. Review the notes on true/false prophets.

  3. Organize the class into groups of three or four learners. Ask learners to refer to the homework, Family Survey, from Lesson Two: Being a Prophet: Traits of the Trade. Ask each group to name at least five people they would consider to be modern day prophets. They should be prepared to present any one of their choices with at least three reasons that validate their selection, based on definitions of social justice and the prophets who were introduced in previous lessons.

  4. Ask for a reporter from each group to share one of their group’s responses with the class. Listeners are free to ask clarifying questions, but should not initiate a debate. Subsequent groups may not use any person already mentioned by another group. If time permits, you may choose to allow a second round of responses.

  5. Assign an advocacy letter. Learners should write a letter to a local, municipal, county or state leader or agency in which they advocate the solution of a problem or issue in the community. To assist in locating an agency or leader, check your local government Web site. The letter should include the following:

  6. Describe the problem, need or issue.

  7. Explain why you are interested in the issue.

  8. Suggest a change or a way to solve the problem.

  9. Offer volunteer service as part of the solution, if possible.

  10. Send a copy to the "Letters to The Editor" of your local newspaper.

  11. Use proper grammar and a business letter format.

  12. Go over Advocacy Letter Rubric (Handout One) with the learners to use as a guide when composing the letter.

Cross Curriculum 

Learners will write an advocacy letter urging support for solving a specific problem in the community.

Philanthropy Framework

  1. Strand PHIL.II Philanthropy and Civil Society
    1. Standard PCS 01. Self, citizenship, and society
      1. Benchmark HS.2 Discuss and give examples of why some humans will sacrifice for the benefit of unknown others.
    2. Standard PCS 02. Diverse Cultures
      1. Benchmark HS.2 Give examples from history of how intolerance of ideas, religion, and minorities contributed to social disintegration.
    3. Standard PCS 07. Skills of Civic Engagement
      1. Benchmark HS.3 Participate in acts of democratic citizenship in the community, state or nation, such as petitioning authority, advocating, voting, group problem solving, mock trials or classroom governance and elections.
  2. Strand PHIL.III Philanthropy and the Individual
    1. Standard PI 01. Reasons for Individual Philanthropy
      1. Benchmark HS.4 Cite historical examples of citizen actions that affected the common good.
  3. Strand PHIL.IV Volunteering and Service
    1. Standard VS 01. Needs Assessment
      1. Benchmark HS.1 Identify a need in the school, local community, state, nation, or world.