The release of the film Selma in this 50th anniversary year of the Selma-to-Montgomery March and the Voting Rights Act of 1965 has helped generate great interest in these pivotal stories from the Civil Rights Movement.
Schools across the country are taking students to see the film. Commemorative events will be held all year.
Today, racial equity and voting rights are front and center in the lives of young people. There is much they can learn from stepping into the history of the Selma voting rights campaign and the larger Civil Rights Movement. We owe it to students on this anniversary to engage them in the history in a way that allows them to look critically at the world today and equips them to carry on the struggle for justice.
All too often, students think that two people (Martin Luther King and Rosa Parks) were responsible for all the gains made by the Civil Rights Movement. Given this “master narrative,” their response to injustices is often to hope for the next savior to come along.
Check out these interactive lessons and recommended resources that invite students to step into the history and think critically and creatively about the continued fight for justice today.
A march of 15,000 in Harlem in solidarity with the Selma voting rights struggle. World Telegram & Sun photo by Stanley Wolfson. Library of Congress.
By Emilye Crosby
On this 50th anniversary year of the Selma-to-Montgomery March and the Voting Rights Act it helped inspire, national attention is centered on the iconic images of “Bloody Sunday,” the words of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., the interracial marchers, and President Lyndon Johnson signing the Voting Rights Act.
This version of history, emphasizing a top-down narrative and isolated events, reinforces the master narrative that civil rights activists describe as “Rosa sat down, Martin stood up, and the white folks came south to save the day.”
Today, issues of racial equity and voting rights are front and center in the lives of young people. There is much they can learn from an accurate telling of the Selma (Dallas County) voting rights campaign and the larger Civil Rights Movement. We owe it to students on this anniversary to share the history that can help equip them to carry on the struggle today. Continue Reading 15 Points.
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On December 5, 2014, New American NYC, in collaboration with the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, held a special event on Freedom Summer and Ferguson, MO. The announcement explained:
Today, fifty years later, with the Voting Rights Act under siege, daily reports of police brutality and racial inequality seen in all realms of American life, we take a look back at the struggles for civil rights and social justice and look at the barriers that still endure.
They began by showing clips of the film Freedom Summer side-by-side with videos from Ferguson, MO.
This was followed by a conversation with Stanley Nelson, film director; Khalil Muhammad, director of the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture; Dorie Ladner, SNCC veteran from Hattiesburg,Miss.; and Arlie Schardt, former TIME correspondent.
Here is a short clip of Ladner describing her response to the long trajectory of oppression.
Here is the full program, including the clips from the film Freedom Summer and the scenes from Ferguson.
The photos are by Sade Joseph and the video clips by Tatiana McCabe, Gregory Maher, and Mike Pagano. The photos and videos clips were made available by New America NYC.
The only thing that will make our lives or our deaths meaningful is that we tell the story of why we did what we did and why the others died.
Charles McDew describes the terror of imprisonment and threats to the lives of Civil Rights Movement activists and others during the freedom struggle in a Moth Radio Hour story, “Why The Others Died” (9/30/2014).
In the conclusion to his chilling and tragic story, he notes, “It gave me to understand that it is not a struggle of black people or white people dominating black people; it is a struggle of people without power being exploited, run over, and destroyed.”
Background on Charles McDew
Charles McDew led his first demonstration in the eighth grade, to protest violations of the religious freedom of Amish students in his hometown of Massillon, Ohio.
Charles McDew 2/17/1962.
McDew’s career as an activist expanded in scope while he was a freshman at South Carolina State College in Orangeburg, SC. Inevitably involved in the newborn sit-in movement, he was elected as student leader by his fellow demonstrators.
McDew attended the founding conference of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) at Shaw in April 1960 while a student at South Carolina State and a member of the Orangeburg Movement for Civil Improvement. He served as the second chairperson of SNCC, from 1961-1963.
1963 SNCC fundraiser at the home of actor and activist Theodore Bikel. (l-r) Ivanhoe Donaldson, Chuck McDew, Lorraine Hansberry, Nina Simone, Theodore Bikel, and James Forman. (c) Lorraine Hansberry Literary Trust (LHLT) private collection. Click for more info.
McDew has been active in organizations for social and political change, working as a teacher and as a labor organizer, managing anti-poverty programs in Washington, D.C., serving as community organizer and catalyst for change in Boston and San Francisco, as well as other communities.
He has appeared on countless radio and television programs as a speaker against racism. McDew recently retired from Metropolitan State University, Minneapolis, MN, where he taught classes on the history of the civil rights movement, African-American history, and in social and cultural awareness. [Bio from SNCC 50th Anniversary website.]
Listen to and share Chuck McDew’s story here.
Mississippi teachers are invited to attend a full day of presentations and workshops on “Turn-of-the-Century Mississippi” on Friday, November 7, sponsored by the Mississippi Department of Archives and History (MDAH). The conference announcement explains that,
The coming of the twentieth century saw great changes throughout the state—social, economic, and industrial. Mississippi’s constitution was rewritten and adopted in 1890 to codify the privileges of white men and institutionalize the impediments to women and African American citizens. The United States and Mississippi were drawn into a world war. Natural disaster ravaged the fertile Delta counties. And a new, native art form was born in the blues.
Cary, Mississippi, May 1, 1927, ten days after the flood. Courtesy MDAH.
The sessions include:
- Political analyst Jere Nash, “The 1890 Constitution and the Rise of Jim Crow Mississippi”
- Mississippi Armed Forces Museum director Chad Daniels, “Mississippi in WWI”
- University of Southern Mississippi associate professor Pamela Tyler, “Woman Suffrage in Mississippi”
- MDAH outreach programs coordinator Claire Gwaltney, “1927 Mississippi Flood Lesson”
- Mississippi Arts Commission arts education director Charlotte Smelser, “Blues in Mississippi Curriculum”
- State Capitol curator Brenda Davis, “Mississippi’s State Capitol”
- MDAH reference librarian De’Niecechsi Layton, “Genealogy in the Classroom”
- University of Southern Mississippi associate professor Deanne Nuwer, “Watering Places along the Mississippi Gulf Coast: The Roaring 1920s”
The event will be held at the Old Capitol Museum in Jackson.
The cost is $40 and includes lunch. A .5 CEU credit is available through Mississippi College. The registration deadline is Friday, October 24. To register, print the schedule and registration form here or call 601-576-6800.
The workshop is sponsored by Mississippi Department of Archives and History in conjunction with the Mississippi College School of Continuing Education, Mississippi Department of Education, and Mississippi Historical Society.
We Shall Not Be Moved: The Jackson Woolworth Sit-In and the Movement it Inspired by M.J. O’Brien is one of the 2014 Lillian Smith Book Award recipients.
The Lillian Smith Book Awards were established in 1968 by the Southern Regional Council to recognize authors whose books represent outstanding achievements demonstrating through literary merit and moral vision an honest representation of the South, its people, its problems, and its promise.
This year’s Forty-Sixth Anniversary Awards Ceremony is a partnership between the Southern Regional Council, the University of Georgia Libraries, and the Georgia Center for the Book. It will be presented in connection with the Decatur Book Festival at the DeKalb County Public Library in Decatur, Georgia on Sunday, August 31, 2015 at 2:30 p.m.
Below is a description of We Shall Not Be Moved:
Once in a great while, an image captures the essence of an era. Three people–one black, two white–sit at a lunch counter while a horde of cigarette smoking hot shots pour catsup, sugar, and other counter condiments on the sitters’ heads and down their backs. The image strikes a chord for all who lived through those turbulent times of a changing America. And for those too young to have endured that period, it evokes an era, not that long ago, when the ordinary act of getting a cup of coffee with a friend of another race could spark a riot.
We Shall Not Be Moved is a triple threat: part biography, part history, and largely just good old fashioned storytelling. The book enables the reader to get behind the iconic image of the Jackson Woolworth’s sit-in and into the hearts and minds of those participating in this harrowing event. It’s history from the bottom up. We Shall Not Be Moved tells the entire story of the Jackson Movement, which the sit-in sparked to life, and the three weeks of demonstrations that put Jackson on the front page of every major newspaper in America.
Sadly, this uprising led to severe retaliation. Two weeks after the Jackson Woolworth’s sit-in, Medgar Evers, the local leader of the movement, was assassinated. We Shall Not Be Moved chronicles this horrific event through first-person accounts of those who endured it, and then reveals how these movement figures carried on after their leader was taken down.
This year marks the 60th anniversary of the Brown v. Board decision. Too often marked as the launch of the Civil Rights Movement, it is important to teach about the Supreme Court ruling in the context of the decades long struggle by people across the United States. This anniversary is also a key time to look at the progress that has been made and the inequities that continue today. Here are some lessons (three from Rethinking Schools), books, films, and articles that can be used to teach about Brown v. Board in grades 4-12.
May 13-17, 2014
To mark the 60th anniversary of Brown v. Board of Education, parents, students, educators and community residents are organizing actions across the country to continue the struggle for racial and educational justice and win the public schools all our children deserve. Teaching for Change is pleased co-sponsor the Alliance to Reclaim Our Schools event in Washington, D.C. at Sousa Middle School.
LESSONS AND TEACHING STORIES
by Elizabeth A. Davis
A D.C. public school teacher and her students learn about and fight to preserve the historic role of one of the schools in the Brown v. Board case.
by Linda Christensen
A role play exercise brings Melba Pattillo Beals’ classic book about the Little Rock Nine to life for students.
by Alison Schmitke
Learning about their community’s civil rights history inspires students to action.
by Willow McCormick
Second graders ask grandparents to write about their experience during the Civil Rights Movement. The letters bring surprising wisdom—and some thought-provoking issues—to the classroom.
BOOKS AND FILMS
There will be an historic convening at Tougaloo College from June 25-29, 2014 on the 50th anniversary of Freedom Summer. Here is a description from the conference website:
In the summer of 1964, hundreds of summer volunteers from across America convened in Mississippi to put an end to the system of rigid segregation. The civil rights workers and the summer volunteers successfully challenged the denial by the state of Mississippi to keep Blacks from voting, getting a decent education, and holding elected offices.
As a result of the Freedom Summer of 1964, some of the barriers to voting have been eliminated and Mississippi has close to 1000 Black state and local elected officials. In fact, Mississippi has more Black elected officials than any other state in the union. While the Freedom Summer of ’64 made profound changes in the state of Mississippi and the country, much remains to be accomplished.
The Mississippi Freedom Summer 50th Anniversary Conference will convene in Jackson, Mississippi both to recognize the accomplishments of those who worked for changes to the politically segregated Mississippi and to discuss how to continue the struggle toward Mississippi reaching its full potential for all of its citizens.
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Front: Peyton Pound, Lili Sagaser, Skylar Culver. Back: Deborah Mordica, Crystal Bush, Jasmine Pullom, Jonathan Franz, Alexis Walton, Madison Lloyd. Photo by Bill McClendon.
On February 22, 2014, the second Local Mississippi History Awards were given at the Mississippi History Day competition at USM-Hattiesburg.
The goal of the award is to deepen student appreciation of and exploration of the untold stories and role of “everyday people” in local Mississippi history, using the National History Day competition as an incentive and a focus for student projects.
Thanks to a grant from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation to Teaching for Change, winning entries received $100 for each student or student team.
2014 Award Winners:
Higher Education in MS. Paper.
Jonathan Franz, Paul Armstrong Middle School
The Game of Change. Website.
Peyton Pound, Gautier Middle School
Bloodshed in Biloxi. Documentary.
Skyler Culver and Lili Sagashar, Gautier Middle School
Emmett Till. Documentary. Crystal Bush and Jasmine Pullom, Pascagoula High School
Integration of Education Forrest County Ag. H/S. Exhibit. Deborah Mordica, Morgan Thornhill and Landon Wa, Forrest County Agricultural High School
Flonzie Brown. Exhibit. Alexis Walton and Madison Lloyd, Pascagoula High School
The judges for the 2014 awards were Jackie Byrd Martin from the William Winter Institute, Lakya Washington from the McComb School District, and Glenda Funchess, veteran of the Civil Rights Movement.
From left: Lawrence Guyot, Ruby Sales, Pete Seeger, Kathleen Cleaver, Junius Williams
The Library of Congress has launched an online collection of oral history interviews with Civil Rights Movement veterans. The interviews were collected and compiled under the Civil Rights History Project Act of 2009 (Public Law 111-19). It was a collaborative effort of the Library of Congress (LOC) and the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of African American History and Culture (NMAAHC).
As is explained on the Library of Congress website, “The activists interviewed for this project belong to a wide range of occupations, including lawyers, judges, doctors, farmers, journalists, professors, and musicians, among others. The video recordings of their recollections cover a wide variety of topics within the civil rights movement, such as the influence of the labor movement, nonviolence and self-defense, religious faith, music, and the experiences of young activists. Actions and events discussed in the interviews include the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom (1963), the Albany Movement (1961), the Freedom Rides (1961), the Selma to Montgomery Rights March (1965), the Orangeburg Massacre (1968), sit-ins, voter registration drives in the South, and the murder of fourteen year old Emmett Till in 1955, a horrific event that galvanized many young people into joining the freedom movement.
“Many interviewees were active in national organizations such as the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), the Congress of Racial Equality (CORE), and the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC). Other interviewees were key members of specialized and local groups including the Medical Committee for Human Rights, the Deacons for Defense and Justice, the Cambridge (Maryland) Nonviolent Action Committee, and the Newark Community Union Project. Several interviews include men and women who were on the front lines of the struggle in places not well-known for their civil rights movement activity such as Oklahoma City, Oklahoma; Saint Augustine, Florida; and Bogalusa, Louisiana.”
Visit the Civil Rights History Project to see the interviews and learn more.
On February 5, 2014, your class can join students across the country for a virtual National Youth Summit on Freedom Summer and civic engagement. Civil rights activists, students, and historians will participate in a panel discussion about the 1964 youth-led effort to end the political disenfranchisement and educational inequality of African Americans in the Deep South, and discuss the role of young people in shaping America’s past and future. The webcast will be hosted from the Old Capitol Museum in Jackson, Mississippi; young people from across the country will participate in the Summit through an online chat. Participating students will be encouraged to think of themselves as makers of history and asked to consider their ability to be active and engaged citizens.
To register and view the program, visit: http://americanhistory.si.edu/nys/freedom-summer
SNCC staff leads volunteers in freedom songs during the SNCC Orientation in Oxford, Ohio. Fannie Lou Hamer (r) and Chuck Neblett (l). Photo by Herbert Randall, McCain Library and Archives, USM.
“Freedom High,” a civil rights movement play, will be performed Monday Feb. 24th at 10am at Queens College’s Goldstein Theater and will be open to selected high school classes*.
The play by Adam Kraar is set in Oxford, Ohio, in late June of 1964 at the orientation and training session for the young volunteers who are about to go south to help with Mississippi voter registration campaigns, freedom schools, and the challenge at Atlantic City Democratic Party convention. The northern volunteers and experienced civil rights activists have come together on a college campus to discuss the goals and risks of the Mississippi summer project and the tactics of non-violent direct action. The dramatic tension in the play builds from the announcement that three young people – two CORE staff (one black, one white) and one (white) summer volunteer – who had attended the first week of orientation are now missing in Neshoba County, MS (and are probably dead). Intense personal and policy decisions face the young volunteers and activists as they get ready to go south.
The dramatic reading with music is produced and directed by Professor Susan Einhorn. The cast is made up of a combination of Queens College students and professional Equity actors (including a number of QC alumni).
If teachers are interested in bringing a class, they should contact Mark Levy, Special Assistant to the President for the Civil Rights Initiative–2013-2014. There will be preparation and follow-up materials for classes selected to attend. (It is understood that this date may be difficult given the NYC public school calendar, but a number of outside criteria determined the date’s selection.)
*About 150 of the theater’s seats that day have been reserved for NYC-area high school students. There is no fee, but there will be a selection and advance reservation process. High schools in Queens are particularly encouraged to apply. Also, a community-focused performance is scheduled for Sunday afternoon Feb. 23 at 2pm, if any teachers are interested in seeing the play then.
On Monday, July 15, with many hearts still reeling from the announcement of George Zimmerman’s acquittal after killing unarmed African American teenager Trayvon Martin, Dr. Khalil Gibran Muhammad and Dr. Ernest Morrell addressed dozens of educators in the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture’s Black History 360° Summer Institute. Muhammad and Morrell invited teachers to place the Zimmerman case within a larger historical context and education narrative.
Read the paraphrased remarks and reflections made by Muhammad and Morrell from their conversation titled Critical Literacies: Socially, Culturally, Technologically Relevant Education at Teaching For Change.
Korean War veteran Clyde Kennard wrote eloquent letters about the need for desegregation and his right to attend Mississippi Southern College (now the University of Southern Mississippi) in the 1950s. Instead of being admitted, the state of Mississippi framed him on criminal charges for a petty crime and sentenced him to seven years of hard labor at Parchman Penitentiary.
Read more about Clyde Kennard and his 50th anniversary at Teaching For Change.
Medgar Wiley Evers was one of Mississippi’s most impassioned activists, orators, and visionaries for equality and against brutality. However many students learn little about his life and legacy in textbooks. Therefore, Teaching for Change prepared an interactive lesson to introduce students to his work and inspire them to learn more. The lesson is also designed as a pre-reading activity, providing an overview for students of the people, places, and issues in Evers’ life.
On Feb. 23 2013, the first Local Mississippi History Awards were given at the Mississippi History Day competition at USM-Hattiesburg.
The goal of the award is to deepen student appreciation of and exploration of the untold stories and role of “everyday people” in local Mississippi history, using the National History Day competition as an incentive and a focus for student projects.
The year 1963 was pivotal to the modern Civil Rights Movement. It is often recalled as the year of the March on Washington
, but much more transpired. It was a year dedicated to direct action and voter registration and punctuated by moments of political theater and acts of violence.
To support teaching about 1963 anniversaries, we describe here some of the key events and milestones in the Movement. Where possible we list recommended books, primary documents, film, and articles for learning more. Key among those resources is the Civil Rights Movement Veterans
(crmvet.org) website, a rich repository of documents, photos, oral histories, audio clips, and other resources created and maintained those who worked on the front lines of the freedom struggle.
The year 2013 marked the 50th anniversary
of significant events in the 1963 Civil Rights Movement or Southern Freedom Movement. Some are well known; others have received less attention. All offer opportunities for either framing or focusing study of the Civil Rights Movement.
A key resource for learning and preparing to teach about the 1963 anniversary events is the Civil Rights Movement Veterans website
. Created and maintained by veterans of the southern freedom movement, the site features first-person accounts of the struggle, as well as documents, photographs, bibliographies, and other resources. The immediacy and personal nature of the resources make them highly engaging reading.
We begin by sharing dates and resources with a focus on Mississippi. Here are more 1963 anniversary events
from other parts of the country.
“You read about it and you have it for a minute and then you lose it. When you experience it hands-on it stays with you forever,” said sophomore Sabrina Mays about the 3-day Civil Rights Movement tour in May of 2011 for 44 middle and high school students from McComb, Miss. Watch the video to see highlights of the tour and hear from the students themselves about what they learned.
By exploring the historical connections between the dedication of the Martin Luther King, Jr. National Memorial
in Washington, D.C. and the Occupy (We are the 99%) movements
nationwide, educators can create an important teachable moment to paint a more holistic picture of King’s legacy in terms of his fight for economic justice in America.
The original August 28 date for the Memorial’s dedication commemorated the famous 1963 “March on Washington.” The official name, “March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom,” is often forgotten amid the celebration of the phrase “I Have a Dream” from his famed speech.
Similarly, textbooks and media often skim over the Poor People’s Campaign, organized by King and the Southern Christian Leadership Conference beginning in 1967. The Poor People’s Campaign culminated after King’s death when demonstrators set up a shantytown called “Resurrection City” in DC for two weeks to protest for an economic bill of rights focusing on jobs, income and housing.
Legacies of the Civil Rights Movement, a month-long symposium on four Utah college campuses, will conclude October 3-4 at the University of Utah with the theme,Teaching the Movement.
Monday, October 3: Keynote address by Dr. Clayborne Carson, professor of history at Stanford University and director of Stanford’s Martin Luther King Jr. Research and Education Institute.
Tuesday, October 4: a panel discussion moderated by Robert Goldberg, director of the Tanner Humanities Center. The panel will include Clayborne Carson; Jon Else, a documentary filmmaker who served as producer and cinematographer for the PBS series, Eyes on the Prize: America’s Civil Rights Years;Vincent Harding, a Civil Rights Movement veteran, professor of Religion and Social Transformation at Iliff School of Theology, and author of many books including Hope and History; and Judy Richardson, a movement veteran, early staff worker with SNCC, associate producer of Eyes on the Prize, and author of the recently published, Hands on the Freedom Plow: Personal Accounts by Women in SNCC
Students at the McComb School District Business and Technology Complex (B&T) have launched the McCombLegacies.org
website. As it states on the homepage, the website is “designed to share the history of McComb, Miss., with an emphasis on the stories of working people of all races, women, and young people and how they have strived for equity in labor, civics, education, economics, and the arts.”
Putting the Movement Back into Civil Rights Teaching was chosen by Teaching Tolerance as one of the best professional development resources for teachers wishing to introduce students to a more accurate portrayal of the Civil Rights Movement.
For 20 years, the Teaching Tolerance staff have reviewed and recommended culturally aware literature and anti-bias resources to educators.
We are deeply honored that Putting the Movement Back into Civil Rights Teaching (published by Teaching for Change and PRRAC) was selected by Teaching Tolerance staff as one of the top 20 titles from the last two decades that is an “enduring classic.”
Teaching Tolerance was founded by the Southern Poverty Law Center in 1991 to “to reduce prejudice, improve intergroup relations, and support equitable school experiences for our nation’s children.”
Read the full story in Staff Picks: Our favorites over the years from the 20th anniversary issue of Teaching Tolerance.
Civil Rights History from the Ground Up: Local Struggles, A National Movement is a collection of scholarly essays that illustrate the critical role local-level organizing played during the civil rights movement. Edited by Emilye Crosby, the essays weave oral history and activist accounts with traditional sources to compel students and general readers to rethink who and what were important to the African American freedom struggle.
The collection covers a broad timeframe—from the movement during the 60s to the present—and examines locales, incidents, and events that remain invisible in traditional narratives on the movement.
In honor of women’s history month, Teaching for Change updated and posted online the popular Women Make History lesson from Putting the Movement Back into Civil Rights Teaching. In this interactive activity, participants are introduced to 36 women of note and the strategies they used as activists.
Educators use the Women Make History lesson to challenge traditional narratives that often exclude the critical role of women in movements for change. Women don’t just sit at home, but sit at counters during sit-ins, organize boycotts and protests, fight for reform, and courageously risk their lives for what they deem is right.
Stephanie Minor-Harper, co-chair of the Dr. Betty Shabazz Delta Academy program, invited Jenice View, co-editor of Putting the Movement Back into Civil Rights Teaching, to present Women Make History to youth enrolled in the program.
“The young ladies were like so many other young people today,” Minor-Harper said. “They could recite the names of a few famous persons who were a part of the civil rights movement—like Martin Luther King, Jr., Rosa Parks, and Jesse Jackson—but they had little sense of the greater context in which they carried out their work.”
Minor-Harper was thankful that View used the activity to move the participants beyond those few icons. “I was amazed by the breadth and depth of the women’s stories,” she continued. “The youth will definitely remember a few, and that’s an excellent start.”
The updated version of Women Make History is available here.
A consortium of seven school districts, led by the McComb, Miss. school district and including Brookhaven, Claiborne, Columbia, Lamar, Marion, and Natchez-Adams districts was awarded a Teaching American History grant in August, 2010. Teaching for Change worked closely with McComb on the application thanks to the support they have received from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation to deepen instruction about Civil Rights Movement and labor history in McComb. (Corinth County School District also received a TAH grant in 2010 and Jackson Public Schools received a grant a few years ago.)