Resource Round-Up: Teaching the Civil Rights Movement

May 19, 2021

Suffering decades of lynching after the Civil War, a movement had long been in the works. However, it wasn’t until the 1950s after the murder of Emmet Till that the movement became organized. In schools, we often learn to associate the civil right movement primarily with the actions of Martin Luther King, Jr. but of course, there were so many pivotal figures and collective actions that were part of the movement. To help educators capture the rich history of the civil rights movement, we’ve compiled a variety of multimedia resources that help create an immersive learning experience that students can access from their classrooms.

Historical sites and important moments

  • You can experience the Civil Rights Trail from anywhere at the trail’s website with interactive maps, timelines, articles and biographies, photos and more. Visit now >
  • The National Trust for Historic Preservation lists seven historical civil rights sites that they are working to preserve. Resources linked include maps and photos of the sites. View now >
  • Alabama was a significant state in the movement. In 1963, four girls died in the bombing of 16th Street Baptist Church in Birmingham. Watch Spike Lee’s documentary on YouTube. Watch now >
  • The Little Rock Convention & Visitors Bureau offers an audio tour of key Arkansas civil rights sites with downloadable transcripts and an app which would be more effective if there in person, but still great with plenty of resources. Check it out >
  • Now a part of the National Park Service’s African American Civil Rights Network, the Civil Rights Movement Archive hosts an extensive database of personal experiences and public documentation through writings, interviews, photos, speeches and more. Explore more >

Wondering what the advantages are of going through virtual tours of the civil rights movement? Read about what one high school student learned and what it meant to them.

Museum exhibits and artifacts

  • Visit the Civil Rights Digital Library, curated by a network of libraries. Examine key figures, events and strategies during the movement with photos, documents, interviews and more. Explore more >
  • The National Women’s History Museum partnered with Google to create a digital exhibit of Black women’s roles in civil rights. View now >
  • The National Civil Rights Museum’s blog shows artifacts from their collections to tell the story behind them. Learn more >
  • The Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture hosts a wealth of digital resources about segregation and civil rights. See more >
  • The U.S. National Archives created an extensive exhibit of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, with documents, photos and videos. Explore more >

The people and stories behind the movement

  • Watch Sonia Sanchez perform her poem “Catch the Fire,” a poem about social change with imagery from the massacres throughout the U.S. used to create strength from the ashes. Watch now >
  • Smithsonian Folkways released an album of songs and speeches from the civil rights movement, available for streaming or purchasing at Bandcamp. Listen now >
  • Georgia Public Broadcasting put up an online exhibit about the activists of the civil rights movement. Learn more >
  • Ronnie Moore was an activist and activist trainer, as well as a photographer. Tulane University also has a significant number of his photos of the movement. View more >
  • KQED produced a documentary, Louisiana Diary, which follows the Congress of Racial Equality in July and August of 1963 as they register Black voters. It involves filmed everyday processes as well as violence against them. Watch now >
  • Communications play a large role in activism. Tulane University’s collection, in partnership with the Amistad Research Center, “Print Culture of the Civil Rights Movement, 1950-1980,” has a large number of scans available from a variety of printed sources at the time, including pamphlets, newspapers, posters and buttons. A shortened, guided version is available on Google, though for a user-friendly experience. See more >

Looking for more resources on the civil rights movement? Check out our resource round-up of tours, exhibits and websites about Jim Crow South.

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