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.
This year (2013) marks 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%) movementsnationwide, 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.”
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.”
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.)