Learning Resources

Remembering the Notorious RBG

How Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg broke down barriers and inspired the next generation of women who lead ...

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This Learning Resource is a bit of a departure for our New American History library of resources. In what we as educators deem a "teachable moment" we are not taking the time we usually do to create a full suite of 5Es learning experiences, piloting or refining compelling questions or even creating a draft in Google Docs. The student version will not include the explanatory teacher tips embedded throughout, but rather brief captions as requested by teachers who may share either remotely or in whole group discussions as needed.

The passing of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, affectionately known to millions (especially law students and history teachers) as The Notorious RBG, is filled with both sorrow and resolve. In these uncertain times, as our country continues to feel the impact of the COVID-19 global pandemic, polarizing political fights over wearing masks, reopening schools and who/what we teach in history classes in our nation's public schools, we must all pause in this moment and think about Justice Ginsburg's final request:

“My Most Fervent Wish Is That I Not Be Replaced Until a New President Is Installed.”

Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg

In her final moments, Justice Ginsburg was still thinking about what is just, what is fair, and what is best for our nation, as well as how her own service and the Supreme Court's legacy will be preserved. How young women looked up to her as a source of inspiration and a role model. In this time, we offer a few brief excerpts in the form of a Bunk Collection, some favorite BackStory episodes and other content which might help teachers and students think about the life and legacy of a remarkable American icon.

This Bunk Collection may be duplicated, modified and shared by teachers as an Assignment, or directly shared using this link with older students as a Collection via Canvas, Google Classroom or any LMS. Students may then take these excerpts and create their own collection, annotating and responding to the questions or creating their own. Read here for more information on Bunk Collections and Assignments.

How did Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg earn her nickname, the Notorious RBG? It is not surprising that when it first appeared as a meme and later a blog started by two law students in 2013, she was both in on the joke and she approved!

In these episodes from the BackStory archives, the legacy of Justice Ruth Ginsburg and the Supreme Court are part of the larger conversation on checks and balance, separation of powers and civil rights. In Above the Fray, the need for the court to remain above partisan politics is examined, and in light of the passing of Justice Ginsburg and almost immediate media frenzy over court packing and appointing justices during an election year, with much welcomed historical analysis.

This episode of BackStory traces the history of the landmark case of Miranda v. Arizona, and features a segment entitled, "Beyond the Bench," where Ruth Bader Ginsburg's efforts to combat sex discrimination were also lauded as ways she and the courts advocated for civil rights as well.

This video excerpt of Justice Ginsburg's Supreme Court nomination hearings explains her distinction in using the term Gender Equity vs. Sex Discrimination.

Did you know Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg was a music fan? Her nickname, "Notorious RBG," inspired rap song parodies, comedy skits and an album of opera music recorded by her own son and daughter in law! She even has her own Spotify playlist! What kind of TikTok or FlipGrid videos would you create, or what songs would you add to a Spotify playlist based on Ginsburg's life and work as a feminist icon and civil rights/gender equality advocate? Create your own RBG video or playlist and share it with us via social media @newamericanhist if your teacher or parents allow.

We hope teachers and students will find these resources useful, and if you and your students do create your own videos, playlists, Bunk Collections, Assignments or even just Share Connections, we would love to hear about it! You may share your links with us via social media, @newamericanhist or using the Feedback from below. We promise we read every single one of them!

This work by New American History is licensed under a Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 (CC BY-NC-SA 4.0) International License. Permissions beyond the scope of this license may be available at newamericanhistory.org.

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