Despite the efforts of Radical Reconstructionists, the American South emerged from the Civil War with a system of laws that undermined the freedom of African Americans and preserved many elements of white privilege. No major successful attack was launched on the segregation system until the 1950s.
Civil rights activists in the early 1960s teemed with enthusiasm. The courts and the federal government seemed to be on their side, and the movement was winning the battle for public opinion. Under the protection of federal troops, in 1962 James Meredith became the first African American to attend the University of Mississippi.
As the unquestioned leader of the peaceful Civil Rights Movement in the 1960s, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was at the same time one of the most beloved and one of the most hated men of his time. From his involvement in the Montgomery bus boycott in 1955 until his untimely death in 1968, King's message of change through peaceful means added to the movement's numbers and gave it its moral strength. The legacy of Martin Luther King Jr. is embodied in these two simple words: equality and nonviolence.
The purpose of this course is to examine the African American experience in the United States from 1863 to the present. Prominent themes include the end of the Civil War and the beginning of Reconstruction; African Americans' urbanization experiences; the development of the modern civil rights movement and its aftermath; and the thought and leadership of Booker T. Washington, Ida B. Wells-Barnett, W.E.B. Du Bois, Marcus Garvey, Martin Luther King Jr., and Malcolm X. WARNING: Some of the lectures in this course contain graphic content and/or adult language that some users may find disturbing.
In this lesson, students will examine the history and popularity of "We Shall Overcome" and investigate six additional songs from different musical genres that reveal the impact of the Civil Rights movement. These are: Billie Holiday's "Strange Fruit," a poignant Blues song depicting the horrors of lynching; Bob Dylan's "Oxford Town," a Folk song about protests after the integration of the University of Mississippi; John Coltrane's "Alabama," an instrumental Jazz recording made in response to the September 1963 church bombing in Birmingham, Alabama, that killed four African-American girls; Nina Simone's "Mississippi Goddam," a response to the same church bombing as well as the murder of civil rights activist Medgar Evers in Mississippi; Sam Cooke's "A Change is Gonna Come," a Soul song written after Cooke's arrest for attempting to check in to a whites-only motel in Shreveport, Louisiana; and Odetta's "Oh Freedom," a spiritual that Odetta performed at the 1963 March on Washington.
This collection of primary resources and corresponding activities sheds light on the endurance of peaceful protesters in Montgomery, Ala., who overturned an unjust law.
In 1948, President Harry Truman took an early step towards civil rights reform by issuing Executive Order 9981, which eliminated racial segregation in the military. After World War II, African Americans ? then often called Negroes or "coloreds," began to mobilize against discrimination. They demanded an end to segregation and fought for equality in education, housing, and employment opportunities. The images in this topic show that by the 1960s, their struggle ? which began in the segregated South ? had reached California. As a number of photographs in this topic show, many Californians showed their support for Civil Rights activists and victims of racial discrimination in the South by holding marches, rallies, and demonstrations urging equality for African Americans. In one image three white children in San Francisco hold a sign in support of the four young black girls killed in the 1963 bombing of the 16th Street Baptist Church in Birmingham, Alabama. Photographs also show people in San Francisco boycotting Kress and Woolworth's department stores, sites of racial discrimination in the South. Documents shown here include a flyer urging the boycott of the stores; and a Western Union telegram sent in 1963, stating that Civil Rights activists Roy Wilkins and Medgar Evers were arrested attempting to picket Woolworth's in Jackson, Mississippi. Two photographs of memorials for slain civil rights leaders ? a march in honor Medgar Evers in 1963, in Los Angeles, and a memorial in the San Francisco Bay Area for Martin Luther King, Jr., in 1968 ? show racially mixed crowds in attendance. But not all Californians sympathized with the Civil Rights movement. Images of racial hatred and prejudice are reflected in the photograph of an African American woman holding a rock that had been thrown through an office window, and Klu Klux Klan graffiti spray-painted on a home. Various groups formed to fight in the struggle for equal rights. The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), formed in 1909, entered a new phase during this period, leading in the organized struggle for civil rights. An example of how the NAACP communicated about events is reflected in a letter from the Alameda County branch of the NAACP on June 13, 1950, which reported segregation on the Southern Pacific Railroad trains leaving Los Angeles. A flyer promoting the boycott of California grapes exemplifies NAACP support for other rights movements, in this case the United Farm Workers. Other flyers urged Californians to fight sharecropper wages and "Keep Mississippi Out of California." Groups such as the Congress of Racial Equality (CORE) and student groups also protested segregation and incidents of racial discrimination in the South. Several important African American leaders ? including Martin Luther King, Jr., Malcolm X, Thurgood Marshall, and Ralph Abernathy ? all came to California, as documented by photographs included here. Sometimes, the price of fighting for social justice was high. Two images capture events held for leaders in the social justice movement who were assassinated: the 1963 memorial march in Los Angeles for civil rights leader Medgar Evers; and a crowd attending a Martin Luther King, Jr., Memorial Rally in honor of the slain civil rights leader.
Conversations host Harry Kreisler welcomes Judge Thelton Henderson for a discussion of the U.S. civil rights movement and its implications for international law. (43 min)
This site contains resources that span the scope and sequence of an American History course at the high school level. Each unit includes primary source documents, digital history files, GIS resources, audio and visual resources, and sites that include lesson plans ranging from America's conception to modern day.
Students will learn about the juxtaposition of image and text to define the social and psychological mood of the civil rights movement in the United States.
Nikki Giovanni's poem 'The Funeral of Martin Luther King, Jr.' is paired with Dr. King's "I Have a Dream" speech, taking students on a quest through time to the Civil Rights movement.
This collection uses primary sources to explore Fannie Lou Hamer and the civil rights movement in rural Mississippi. Digital Public Library of America Primary Source Sets are designed to help students develop their critical thinking skills and draw diverse material from libraries, archives, and museums across the United States. Each set includes an overview, ten to fifteen primary sources, links to related resources, and a teaching guide. These sets were created and reviewed by the teachers on the DPLA's Education Advisory Committee.
This collection uses primary sources to explore The Fire Next Time by James Baldwin. Digital Public Library of America Primary Source Sets are designed to help students develop their critical thinking skills and draw diverse material from libraries, archives, and museums across the United States. Each set includes an overview, ten to fifteen primary sources, links to related resources, and a teaching guide. These sets were created and reviewed by the teachers on the DPLA's Education Advisory Committee.
In this lesson, students will use a primary source—an NBC news report from 1961—to investigate the Freedom Rides. The lesson will also explore segregation in the South and the tenets of nonviolent protest.
The National Humanities center presents this collection of essays by leading scholars on the topic ŇFreedomŐs Story: Teaching African American Literature and HistoryÓ. Topics include the affect of slavery on families, slave resistance, how to read slave narratives, Frederick Douglass, reconstruction, segregation, pigmentocracy, protest poetry, jazz, the Harlem Renaissance, the Civil Rights Movement, and more.
In this lesson, students will revisit the life of James Baldwin, an African-American literary writer and critic, as well as an icon for civil and gay rights. Far ahead of his time, Baldwin was "out and proud" before that term became a popular cultural idiom. Baldwin's life illuminates not just the intersection between gay rights and civil rights, but perhaps even more importantly, the connections among self-identification, artistic expression and political activism. This lesson is part of "The Role of Gay Men and Lesbians in the Civil Rights Movement" Series.
In this lesson, students will learn about the nine African-American students who integrated Little Rock’s Central High School in 1957. They will also explore the price the Little Rock Nine paid as they created history, as well as the controversies surrounding Daisy Bates and her role in the movement. They will also develop an awareness of the important role the Little Rock Nine played in the civil rights movement and how they inspired the activism of other youth in the Black Freedom Struggle.