Extremism in America (full film)

This 28-minute special looks at the roots and rise of hate groups in America. It is released in collaboration with WORLD Channel and The WNET Group’s reporting initiative Exploring Hate.

The Biden administration has made combating domestic extremism a top priority, warning that white supremacist and other far-right extremists pose the most significant threat to the country. To many, especially those who study history, that admission was too long in coming. For decades, there have been warning signs that white supremacist and anti-government beliefs were spreading and that the violence associated with those beliefs was growing.

Leadership support for “Exploring Hate” is provided by the Sylvia A. and Simon B. Poyta Programming Endowment to Fight Antisemitism. To learn more about Exploring Hate and for a full list of funders, visit pbs.org/exploringhate.

Browse through dozens more lesson plans and videos here.

For teachers
  • Series Senior Producer and Writer: Scott Michels
  • Series Supervising Editor: Brian Kamerzel
  • Editor: Heru Muharrar
  • Editor: Anne Checler

For Educators


Is the justice system in the United States responding to increased extremism appropriately? What is at stake? Who should address increasing violence? Students will engage in the inquiry process by developing questions related to extremism, building contextual knowledge and assessing the effectiveness of interventions to address extremism.


This film and accompanying resources deal with sensitive topics that may be triggering for some students. The exploration of hate groups, white supremacy and violence are topics that should receive great care in the classroom. Some school districts may employ YouTube content filters that block the material. If you need access, please email David Olson at dolson@retroreport.com.

Lesson Plan 1: Extremism in America

Students will explore the seeds of the extremist ideologies that continue to be influential today and the government’s failed attempts to stop the broader white supremacist movement.


Students will:

  • Guide their own learning by engaging in the inquiry process
  • Examine defining moments of Extremism in the United States
  • Assess the effectiveness of various approaches to disrupt extremist ideology
Essential questions
  • What is likely to happen if acts of hate and bias are allowed to escalate unchecked?
  • What are some effective methods of protecting against extremist ideology?
  • National Council for the Social Studies C3 Framework
    • D1.3.9-12.Explain points of agreement and disagreement experts have about interpretations and applications of disciplinary concepts and ideas associated with a supporting question.
    • D1.4.9-12.Explain how supporting questions contribute to an inquiry and how, through engaging source work, new compelling and supporting questions emerge.
    • D2.Civ.5.9-12.Evaluate citizens’ and institutions’ effectiveness in addressing social and political problems at the local, state, tribal, national, and/or international level.
    • D2.Civ.8.9-12.Evaluate social and political systems in different contexts, times, and places, that promote civic virtues and enact democratic principles.
    • D2.Civ.11.9-12.Evaluate multiple procedures for making governmental decisions at the local, state, national, and international levels in terms of the civic purposes achieved.
    • D2.Civ.14.9-12.Analyze historical, contemporary, and emerging means of changing societies, promoting the common good, and protecting rights.
    • D2.His.1.9-12.Evaluate how historical events and developments were shaped by unique circumstances of time and place as well as broader historical contexts.
    • D2.His.2.9-12.Analyze change and continuity in historical eras.
    • D2.His.5.9-12.Analyze how historical contexts shaped and continue to shape people’s perspectives.
    • D2.His.12.9-12.Use questions generated about multiple historical sources to pursue further inquiry and investigate additional sources.
    • D2.His.16.9-12.Integrate evidence from multiple relevant historical sources and interpretations into a reasoned argument about the past.