Civil Rights


Documents on Jim Crow, the Constitution and a civil rights timeline

Eyes on the Prize‘ Episode 1 ‘Awakenings’: Video and Worksheet
Students choose two questions to discuss in class

Groups for and against the development of civil rights
Investigate the aims and actions / tactics of each

  • National Association for the Advancement of Colored Peoples
  • Congress of Racial Equality
  • Regional Council of Negro Leadership
  • Lily-White Movement
  • Ku Klux Klan
  • White Citizens Council

Impact of WWII on civil rights
This fact sheet is a good overview of African-Americans in World War II.

Some possible starting sentences to the question, “What impact did WWII have on the development of civil rights in the USA?”

There were many elements of WWII which impacted on the development of civil rights in the USA, the largest being the massive influx of African Americans into the US Armed Forces…

From an elitist, white, Army in 1941 to being officially desegregated in 1948, WWII had an irrevocable impact on the US Armed Forces, and ultimately on US civilian life as well.

Black Americans returned from WWII as heroes, leaders and equals into a civilian life which had not had to unite different races of Americans as the military was forced to during the war.


To what extent did the Montgomery Bus Boycott ‘spark’ the Civil Rights Movement?

Why was the ‘Little Rock Nine’ a key event for the Civil Rights Movement?

Read this
Watch this

And from ‘The Butler’ (shows preparation and planning) [First 4:13 only, then repeats]


Major Events

Freedom Rides
Lots around the internet, but read particularly this piece. Have an understanding of the events, but also look carefully at the section on ‘Important Points‘. Why were the rides such a powerful force in the CRM?

The March on Washington
 Overview from CORE
Text of MLK’s ‘I have a dream‘ speech (play the audio while you read the text)
Impact of the March on Washington
Obviously, huge! A few articles, but lots of other good ones also out there:
–  ‘4 big accomplishments
–  Interesting perspective on coming from out of town (800km Cincinnati – DC)
–  Has civil rights progress stagnated? Interesting article which gives lots of good info about the 1960s with how it has evolved since.

And of course, lots more!

(some questions, with answers supplied!, thanks to PBS – ‘Procedure, No. 3)


Civil Rights Act (1964)

HISTORY.COM – a good overview
Civil Rights Act 1964 (Library of Congress)
and an interesting other aspect of the CRA 1964 – no discrimination according to sex)

Voter Registration & the Voting Rights Act
This piece outlines the background to the debate over whether to focus on voter registration or direct action protests. (It is also a pertinent lesson in win/win decision making) 

How voting worked in Alabama before the Voting Rights Act
– Application Form: Overview and Form
– Literacy Test: Overview and Sample from a ‘Citizenship School’ to prepare prospective black applicants for the test.
(How is this different from a ‘Citizenship Test’ given to prospective new citizens – ie immigrants applying for naturalisation?)

Voting Rights Act

From Library of Congress page on the Immediate Impact of the CRA 1964

Black Panthers

Overview (History Learning Site)
FBI Files
10 Point Plan

Executive Mandate No. 1

Key People in the CRM

Martin Luther King

Bio from CORE

Malcolm X

Opposition to civil rights

Ku Klux Klan

John Birch Society


Video at

Extended Reading

Library of Congress, Civil Rights Act 1964 Exhibition:
World War II
Civil Rights Era
Civil Rights Act 1964
 Impact of Civil Rights Act

Marian Anderson concert in 1939 at Lincoln Memorial

Comprehensive Revision Document: Civil Rights 1945-1968

Martin Luther King and Malcolm X: A collation of sources

Suggestion from Jack: Louis Theroux and Black Nationalists (1999)