For All the World to See: Visual Culture and the Struggle for Civil Rights
“…we had averted our eyes for far too long, turning away from the ugly reality facing us as a nation. Let the world see what I’ve seen.” – Mamie Till Bradley
For All The World To See: Visual Culture and The Struggle for Civil Rights examines the role that visual culture played in shaping and transforming the struggle for racial equality in America from the late 1940s to the mid-1970s.
In September 1955, shortly after 14-year-old Emmett Till was murdered by white supremacists in Mississippi, his grieving mother, Mamie Till Bradley, distributed to newspapers and magazines a gruesome black-and-white photograph of his mutilated corpse. The mainstream media rejected the photograph as inappropriate for publication, but Bradley was able to turn to African-American periodicals for support. Asked why she would do this, Bradley explained that by witnessing, with their own eyes, the brutality of segregation, Americans would be more likely to support the cause of civil rights.
Through a compelling assortment of photographs, television clips, art posters, and historic artifacts, For All the World to See traces how images and media disseminated to the American public transformed the modern civil rights movement and jolted Americans, both black and white, out of a state of denial or complacency.
Visitors to this immersive exhibition will explore dozens of compelling and persuasive visual images, including photographs from influential magazines, such as Life, Jet, and Ebony; CBS news footage; and TV clips from The Ed Sullivan Show. Also included are civil rights-era objects that exemplify the range of negative and positive imagery—from Aunt Jemima syrup dispensers and 1930s produce advertisements to Jackie Robinson baseball ephemera and 1960s children’s toys with African American portraiture. For All The World To See is not a history of the civil rights movement, but rather an exploration of the vast number of potent images that influenced how Americans perceived race and the struggle for equality. As Ebony founder John H. Johnson put it, magazines and television “opened new windows in the mind and brought us face to face with the multicolored possibilities of man and woman.”
For All The World To See is curated by Dr. Maurice Berger, research professor, the Center for Art, Design, and Visual Culture, University of Maryland, Baltimore. It is co-organized by the Center for Art, Design, and Visual Culture and the National Museum of African-American History and Culture, Smithsonian Institution.
“The picture magazines of the 1940s did for the public what television did for audiences of the 1950s: they opened new windows in the mind and brought us face to face with the multicolored possibilities of man and woman.” – John H. Johnson
During the modern civil rights movement, visual culture was an important force in combating society’s habitually negative or ambivalent view of African-Americans. Black leaders, organizers, artists, and institutions fought to make visible the positive image of black people. This imagery counteracted the damaging effects of stereotypes by bolstering self-esteem, inspiring activism in the black community, and creating a new lens through which the nation at large viewed African-Americans.
As the movement evolved, constructive and self-assured images became an important part of media geared toward African-American audiences. In the 1940s and 1950s, the birth of the modern African American pictorial magazine (like the Sepia cover featured above) paralleled the mainstream popularity of illustrated tabloid newspapers and picture magazines. Sepia, the African American-owned photography and journalism magazine, debuted in 1947.
This exhibition was supported by the National Endowment for the Humanities. Any views, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this exhibition do not necessarily represent those of the National Endowment for the Humanities.
For All the World to See tours April 2012 through January 2023. The dates below reflect 7-week exhibition periods. Dates are subject to change; please call for current availability.
April 2012–January 2023
April 6–May 25, 2012
Wyandotte County Historical Society
Bonner Springs, KS booked
September 1–October 20
Terrebonne Parish Library
Houma, LA booked
November 10, 2012–January 7, 2013
The Kansas African American Museum
Wichita, KS booked
January 28–March 16, 2013
William F. Laman Public Library
Little Rock, AR booked
April 6–May 25, 2013
Chippewa Valley Museum
Eau Claire, WI booked
June 16–August 11, 2013
Oregon Historical Society
Portland, OR booked
September 1–October 20, 2013
Bessie Smith Cultural Center
Chattanooga, TN booked
January 28–March 16, 2014
University of Texas-San Antonio
San Antonio, TX booked
April 6–May 25, 2014
William Jewell College
Liberty, MO booked
September 1–October 20, 2014
Doylestown, PA booked
January 28–March 16, 2015
Bell County Museum
Belton, TX booked
April 6–May 25, 2015
Stearns History Museum
St. Cloud, MN booked
June 16–August 11, 2015
Loves Jazz and Art Center
Omaha, NE booked
September 1–October 20, 2015
Sioux City Public Museum
Sioux City, IA booked
November 10, 2015–January 7, 2016
Cape Fear Museum
Wilmington, NC booked
January 28–March 16, 2016
El Paso Museum of History
El Paso, TX booked
April 6–May 25, 2016
Union, NJ booked
June 16–August 11, 2016
Lyman Allyn Art Museum
New London, CT booked
September 1–October 20, 2016
Eastern Illinois University
Charleston, IL booked
November 10, 2016–January 7, 2017
West Baton Rouge Museum
Baton Rogue, LA booked
January 28–March 16, 2017
Texarkana Regional Arts and Humanities Council
Texarkana, TX booked
April 6–May 25, 2017
Mulvane Art Museum
Topeka, KS booked
September 1, 2017–January 7, 2018
Kansas City, MO booked
January 28–May 25, 2018
Los Angeles Public LIbrary
Los Angeles, CA booked
June 16–August 11, 2018
Black Archives of Kansas City
Kansas City, MO booked
September 1–October 20, 2018
McClung Museum, University of Tennessee, Knoxville
Knoxville, TN booked
November 10, 2018–January 7, 2019
Birthplace of Country Music Museum
Bristol, TN booked
January 28–March 16, 2019
Museum of Culture & Environment, Central Washington University
Ellensburg, WA booked
April 4–May 25, 2019
Museum of the Mississippi Delta
Greenwood, MS booked
June 16–August 11, 2019
The Civil War Museum
Kenosha, WI booked
September 1–October 20, 2019
East Carolina University, Joyner Library
Greenville, NC booked
November 10, 2019–January 7, 2020
Carver County Historical Society
Waconia, MN booked
January 28–March 16, 2020
Arkansas State University
Jonesboro, AR booked
June 16–August 11, 2020
Kansas City, MO booked
September 1–October 20, 2020
Ypsilanti District Library
Ypsilanti, MI booked
November 10, 2020–March 16, 2021
University of Idaho Library partnering with Latah County Historical Society
Moscow, ID booked
June 16–August 11, 2021
Anaheim, CA booked
September 1–October 20, 2021
The Heritage Museum & Cultural Center
St. Joseph, MI booked
November 10, 2021–January 7, 2022
Ella Sharp Museum
Jackson, MI booked
January 28–March 16, 2022
Fort Worth Museum of History & Science
Fort Worth, TX pending
April 6–May 25, 2022
Gwinnett Environmental & Heritage Center
Buford, GA pending
June 16–August 11, 2022
Naperville, IL booked
September 1–October 20, 2022
Temecula Valley Museum
Temecula, CA pending
November 10, 2022–January 7, 2023
Miami Dade College - Kimball Campus
Miami, FL booked
Exhibition Details & Specifications
Dr. Maurice Berger, Research Professor, The Center for Art, Design, and Visual Culture, University of Maryland, Baltimore County
Organized ByThe Center for Art, Design, and Visual Culture, University of Maryland, Baltimore County and the National Museum of African-American History and Culture, Smithsonian Institution.
The exhibition includes objects, graphics, magazines, and other paper ephemera related to the media presentation of the Civil Rights movement. It will also include multiple video presentations with film footage from television, cinematic, and governmental sources.
Expense covered by NEH on the Road. Exhibitor will coordinate with NEH on the Road's registrar for all outgoing transportation arrangements.
Number of Crates/Total Weight
15 crates (and 1 tub) / 4,450 lbs
The exhibition is fully insured by M-AAA at no additional expense to you, both while installed and during transit.
Download this glossary here.
Black Nationalism/Black Muslims – Black leaders emphasized separatism and identification with Africa. One of the most important expressions of the separatist impulse during the 1960s was the rise of the Black Muslims, which attracted 100,000 members. Founded in 1931, in the depths of the depression, the Nation of Islam drew its appeal from among the growing numbers of urban blacks living in poverty. The Black Muslims elevated racial separatism into a religious doctrine and declared that whites were doomed to destruction. The most controversial exponent of Black Nationalism was Malcolm X.
Boycott – A campaign of withdrawal of support from a company, government or institution which is committing an injustice, such as racial discrimination.
Brown v. Board of Education – Brown v. Board of Education, 347 U.S. 483, 47 S. Ct. 686, 98 L. Ed. 873, was the most significant of a series of judicial decisions overturning segregation laws—laws that separate whites and blacks. Reversing its 1896 decision in Plessy v. Ferguson, 163 U.S. 537, 16 S. Ct. 1138, 41 L. Ed. 256, which established the “separate-but-equal” doctrine that found racial segregation to be constitutional, the Supreme Court unanimously decided in Brown that laws separating children by race in different schools violated the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment, which provides that “[n]o state shall … deny to any person … the equal protection of the laws.” In making its decision, the Court declared that “separate educational facilities are inherently unequal.” Moreover, the Court found that segregated schools promote in African American children a harmful and irreparable sense of inferiority that damages not only their lives but the welfare of U.S. society as a whole.
Civil Disobedience – The act of openly disobeying an unjust, immoral or unconstitutional law as a matter of conscience, and accepting the consequences, including submitting to imprisonment if necessary, to protest an injustice.
Civil Rights – “Civil rights” are the rights of individuals to be free from unfair or unequal treatment (discrimination) in a number of settings, when that negative treatment is based on the individual’s race, gender, religion, national origin, disability, sexual orientation, age, or other protected characteristic.
Civil Rights Act of 1964 – A federal law that prohibits discrimination in a number of settings: Title I prohibits discrimination in voting; Title II: public accommodations; Title III: Public Facilities; Title IV: Public Education; Title VI: Federally-Assisted Programs; Title VII: Employment.
Civil Rights Movement – Historically, the term “Civil Rights Movement” has referred to efforts toward achieving true equality for African Americans in all facets of society, but today the term “civil rights movement” is also used to describe the advancement of equality for all people regardless of race, sex, age, disability, national origin, religion, sexual orientation, or other protected characteristic.
Demonstrations – Gatherings and protest activities organized to build support for peace, justice or social reform.
Desegregation – The breaking down of imposed racial separation. Desegregation has always been a fundamental aim of the civil rights movement in United States and was given special impetus by the Supreme Court’s 1954 decision in Brown v. Board of Education that ruled segregated schools unconstitutional.
Discrimination – Discrimination is unfair or unequal treatment of an individual (or group) based on certain legally-protected characteristics—including age, disability, ethnicity, gender, national origin, race, religion, sexual orientation. Federal and state laws prohibit discrimination against members of these protected groups in a number of settings, including education, employment, government services, housing, lending, public accommodations, transportation, and voting.
Ghetto Comedy – Television sitcoms that emerged during the 1970s featuring all black casts and set in urban impoverished areas like Washington D.C., Watts, and Chicago. These shows offered mainstream viewers a humorous view of working class African American inner city life. While some of ghetto comedies attempted to make social commentary on race relations, many reverted to black stereotypes for comic effect.
Hate Crimes – A hate crime is an act of violence or threat of violence that is intended to injure and/or intimidate the victim(s) because of their race, ethnicity, national origin, religious, sexual orientation, or disability.
Invisibility – The notion explored in Ralph Ellison’s book Invisible Man that African Americans are rendered voiceless and unseen in mainstream culture. His words advocate a freedom from invisibility and to be recognized as “a man of substance, of flesh and bone, fiber and liquids and I might even be said to possess as mind. I am invisible, understand, simply because people refuse to see me.”
Jim Crow – The name that was given to the de jure or legal segregation of blacks from whites before the civil rights movement. The name itself comes from a black minstrel caricature popularized in song during the 1830s. Thus, laws restricting African Americans to the back of a bus or creating separate restrooms, drinking fountains or eating facilities were known as “Jim Crow” laws.
Lynching – The term is derived from the “vigilante justice” practiced by Captain William Lynch and his neighbors in Pittsylvania County, Virginia, in the late 18th century. In the 19th century, lynching—usually associated with hanging but also including tar and feathering, burning and other methods of killing—became increasingly directed against African Americans. In the last 16 years of the 19th century, there were some 2,500 reported lynchings. The quest for federal laws against lynching was among the first crusades of the NAACP in the early decades of the 20th century.
“Mainstream” – Popular culture, visual media and their perspectives, produced by and for the majority. Publications represent the highest readership and largest audience. In this case, mainstream can also be equated with the trends and behaviors of the white middle class.
Mass March – A large number of people walk in a group to a place of symbolic significance to protest an injustice.
Media – The means of communication that reach large numbers of people, such as television, newspapers, radio, and the Internet.
Passive Resistance – Challenging an injustice by refusing to support or cooperate with an unjust law, action or policy. The term “passive” is misleading because passive resistance includes pro-active nonviolence, such as marches, boycotts and other forms of active protest.
Picketing – A group of individuals walk with signs bearing protest messages in front of a site where an injustice has been committed.
Pictorial Magazines – A print publication containing many pictures; viewpoints are often expressed through visual material as well as text. Pictorial magazines had the ability to evoke life-like images within the mind.
Racial Nostalgia – An emotional longing for times when race relations were simplistic and clearly hierarchical, as during the enslavement of Africans in the American South. This term includes both public and private expressions of nostalgia.
Segregation – Separation or isolation of a race or class from the rest of the population. In the United States, segregation has taken two forms: de jure and de facto. De jure segregation is where a set of laws mandates separation, like those that prevailed in the South from the end of Reconstruction. De facto segregation prevailed in the North after Reconstruction and is enforced by cultural and economic patterns rather than by law, especially in housing.
Sit-ins – Tactic of nonviolence in which protesters sit down at the site of an injustice and refuse to move for a specified period of time or until goals are achieved. Examples include Flint (Mich.) sit-down strike of 1936-37 in which auto workers sat down on job for 44 days in protest for union recognition and the student sit-ins to desegregate lunch counters in Greensboro, NC in 1960.
Status Quo – The existing state of affairs, especially in regard to social and political issues. In exploring the evolution of media alongside civil rights, there was a general trend for the majority to maintain the status quo and resist change. This meant continuing to represent African Americans through a mainstream, white lens.
Strikes – Organized withholding of labor to correct injustice.
Exhibition Reference Materials
Download this bibliography here.
Materials accompanying the exhibition are marked with an asterisk (*). Annotated information is provided when titles are insufficient.
Articles: Visual Culture and the Civil Rights Movement
Baker, Courtney. “Emmett Till, Justice, and the Task of Recognition.” The Journal of American Culture 29, no. 2 (June 2006): 110-123.
Cox, Keith. “Changes in the Stereotyping of Negroes and Whites in Magazine Advertisements.” Public Opinion Quarterly (Winter 1969-1970): 603-06.
Cripps, Thomas. “Walter’s Thing”: The NAACP’s Hollywood Bureau of 1946—A Cautionary Tale.” Journal of Popular Film and Television (Summer 2005): 30-65.
Gould, Jack. “Television and Civil Rights: Medium Demonstrates Importance as a Factor in the Campaign to Achieve Racial Integration.” The New York Times, September 8, 1963, X15.
Hall, James C. “On Sale at Your Favorite Newsstand: Negro Digest/Black World and the 1960s.” In The Black Press: New Literary and Historical Essays, edited by Todd Vogel. New Brunswick, NJ, and London: Rutgers University Press, 2001.
Harris, Frederick C. “It Takes a Tragedy to Arouse Them: Collective Memory and Collective Action During the Civil Rights Movement.” Social Movement Studies 5, no. 1 (2006): 19-43.
Stange, Maren. “Photographs Taken in Everyday Life: Ebony’s Photojournalistic Discourse.” In The Black Press: New Literary and Historical Essays, edited by Todd Vogel. New Brunswick, NJ, and London: Rutgers University Press, 2001.
Adult Publications: The Civil Rights Movement and Black Power (General)
Albert, Peter J., and Ronald Hoffman. We Shall Overcome: Martin Luther King, Jr. and the Black Freedom Struggle. New York, NY: Pantheon, 1990.
Arsenault, Raymond. Freedom Riders: 1961 and the Struggle for Racial Justice. Oxford, MA: Oxford University Press, 2006.
Austin, Algernon. Achieving Blackness: Race, Black Nationalism, and Afro-Centrism in the Twentieth Century. New York, NY: New York University Press, 2006.
Branch, Taylor. At Canaan’s Edge: America in the King Years, 1965-68. New York, NY: Simon & Schuster, 2006.
Breitman, George, ed. By Any Means Necessary: Speeches, Interviews, and a Letter by Malcolm X. New York, NY: Pathfinder, 1970.
Eskew, Glenn T. But for Birmingham: The Local and National Movements in the Civil Rights Struggle. Chapel Hill and London: University of North Carolina Press, 1997.
Garrow, David J. Bearing the Cross: Martin Luther King, Jr. and the Southern Christian Leadership Conference. New York, NY: William Morrow, 1986.
Goldsby, Jacqueline. A Spectacular Secret: Lynching in American Life and Literature. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2006.
Jeffries, Hasan. Bloody Lowndes: Civil Rights and Black Power in Alabama’s Black Belt. New York, NY: NYU Press, 2010.
Lewis, Andrew B. The Shadows of Youth: The Remarkable Journey of the Civil Rights Generation. New York, NY: Hill and Wang, 2009.
Litwack, Leon F. How Free Is Free? The Long Death of Jim Crow. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2009.
Margolic, David. Strange Fruit: The Biography of a Song. New York, NY: Harper Collins, 2001.
McWhorter, Diane. Carrie Me Home: Birmingham, Alabama and the Climactic Battle of the Civil Rights Revolution. New York, NY: Simon & Shuster, 2001.
Morris, Aldon. Origins of the Civil Rights Movement. New York, NY: Free Press, 1984.
Pinkney, Andrea Davis, and Stephen Alcorn. Let It Shine: Stories of Black Women Freedom Fighters. San Diego, CA: Harcourt, 2000.
Roediger, David R. How Race Survived U.S. History: From Settlement and Slavery to the Obama Phenomenon. New York and London, Verso, 2008.
Sullivan, Patricia. Lift Every Voice: The NAACP and the Making of the Civil Rights Movement. New York, NY: New Press, 2009.
Williams, Juan. Eyes on the Prize: America’s Civil Rights Years, 1954-1965. New York, NY: Viking, 1987.
Adult Publications: Visual Culture and the Civil Rights Movement
Abel, Elizabeth. Signs of the Times: The Visual Politics of Jim Crow. Berkeley, CA: University of California Press, 2010.
*Berger, Maurice. For All the World To See: Visual Culture and the Struggle For Civil Rights. New Haven: Yale University Press, 2010.
*Goings, Kenneth W. Mammy and Uncle Mose: Black Collectibles and American Stereotyping. Bloomington, IN: Indiana University Press, 1994.
Neal, Mark Anthony. Soul Babies: Black Popular Culture and the Post-Soul Aesthetic. New York, NY: Routledge, 2002.
*Parks, Gordon. A Choice of Weapons. New York, NY: Harper & Row, 1966 (Minnesota Historical Society Press, Second Edition, 2010).
Film and Television
*Acham, Christine. Revolution Televised: Prime Time and the Struggle for Black Power. Minneapolis and London: University of Minnesota Press, 2004.
Bogle, Donald. Toms, Coons, Mulattoes, Mammies, & Bucks: An Interpretive History of Blacks in American Films. New York: Continuum, 2003 (1973).
Cripps, Thomas. Making Movies Black: The Hollywood Message Movie from World War II to the Civil Rights Era. New York, NY: Oxford University Press, 1993.
Graham, Allison. Framing the South: Hollywood, Television, and Race During the Civil Rights Struggle. Baltimore, MA: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2001.
*Guerrero, Ed. Framing Blackness: The African American Image in Film. Philadelphia, PA: Temple University Press, 1993.
Mills, Kay. Changing Channels: The Civil Rights Case That Transformed Television. Jackson, MS: University Press of Mississippi, 2004.
Pieraccini, Cristina, and Douglass L. Alligood. Color Television: Sixty Years of African American and Latino Images on Prime-Time Television. Dubuque, IA: Kendall/Hunt, 2009.
Ross, Karen. Black and White Media: Television, Film and the Construction of Black Identities. Cambridge, UK: Polity Press, 1995.
Smith, Valerie, ed. Representing Blackness: Issues in Film and Video. New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers, 1997.
*Adelman, Bob, and Charles Johnson. Mine Eyes Have Seen: Bearing Witness to the Struggle for Civil Rights. New York, NY: Time Home Entertainment, 2007.
Duganne, Erina. The Self in Black and White: Race and Subjectivity in Postwar American Photography. Hanover, NH: Dartmouth College Press, 2010.
Goldberg, Vicki. The Power of Photography: How Photographs Changed Our Lives. New York, NY: Abbeville, 1991.
Kasher, Steven. The Civil Rights Movement: A Photographic History, 1854-68. New York, NY: Abbeville, 1996.
Smith, Shawn Michelle. Photography on the Color Line: W.E.B. Du Bois, Race, and Visual Culture. Durham, NC: Duke University Press Books, 2004.
*Willis, Deborah, ed. Picturing Us: African-American Identity in Photography. New York, NY: The New Press, 1994.
Withers, Ernest C. Let Us March On! Selected Civil Rights Photographs of Ernest C. Withers 1955–1968. Boston, MA: Massachusetts College of Art, 1992.
Dates, Jannette Lake, and William Barlow. Split Image: African Americans in the Mass Media. Washington, DC: Howard University Press, 1990.
Entman, Robert M., and Andrew Rojecki. The Black Image in the White Mind: Media and Race in America. Chicago and London: University of Chicago Press, 2001.
Henderson, Harry. Power of the News Media. New York, NY: Facts On File, 2004.
Larson, Stephanie Greco. Media & Minorities: The Politics of Race in News and Entertainment. Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield, 2006.
Lentz, Richard. Symbols, The News Magazine and Martin Luther King. Baton Rouge and London: University of Louisiana Press, 1990.
Lester, Paul Martin, and Susan Dente Ross. Images That Injure: Pictorial Stereotypes in the Media. Westport, CT: Praeger, 2003
Carson, Clayborne and David Garrow et al., compilers. Reporting Civil Rights. New York, NY: Library of America, 2003.
Squires, Catherine R. African Americans and the Media. Cambridge, UK: Polity, 2009. Ward, Brian. Media, Culture, and the Modern African American Freedom Struggle. Gainesville, FL: University Press of Florida, 2001.
Chambers, Jason. Madison Avenue and the Color Line: African Americans in the Advertising Industry. Philadelphia, PA: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2008.
Durant, Sam, ed. Black Panther: The Revolutionary Art of Emory Douglas. New York, NY: Rizzoli, 2007.
Powell, Richard J. Black Art and Culture in the 20th Century. London: Thames and Hudson, 1997.
Wallace, Michele. Dark Designs and Visual Culture. Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2005.
Woodard, Komozi. A Nation Within a Nation: Amiri Baraka (LeRoi Jones) and Black Power Politics. Chapel Hill, NC: University of North Carolina Press, 1999.
Adult Publications: Fiction
Baldwin, James. Go Tell It on the Mountain. New York, NY: Dial Press, 1963 (1953).
Ellison, Ralph. Invisible Man. [S.I.]: Vintage, 1995 (1952).
Haley, Alex. Roots: The Saga of an American Family. New York, NY: Vanguard Books, 2007 (1976).
Himes, Chester B. If He Hollers Let Him Go. Garden City, NY: Doubleday, Doran & Co, 1945.
Petry, Ann. The Street. Boston, MA: Houghton Mifflin Co, 1991 (1946).
Smith, William Gardner. South Street. Chatham, NJ: The Chatham Bookseller, 1973 (1954).
West, Dorothy. The Living Is Easy. Old Westbury, NY: Feminist Press, 1982 (1948).
Wright, Richard. Native Son. New York, NY: Harper & Bros, 1940.
Juvenile Publications: Nonfiction (The Civil Rights Movement, Visual Culture, etc.)
Adler, David A., and Bill Farnsworth. Heroes for Civil Rights. New York, NY: Holiday House, 2008.
Adler, David A., and Robert Casilla. A Picture Book of Jackie Robinson. New York, NY: Holiday House, 1994.
Bridges, Ruby. Through My Eyes. New York, NY: Scholastic Press, 1999.
*Brimner, Larry D. Birmingham Sunday. Pennsylvania: Boyd’s Mill Press, 2010.
Haskins, James. The Freedom Rides: Journey for Justice. New York, NY: Hyperion Books for Children, 1995.
*King, Casey, Linda Barret Osborne. Oh, Freedom! : Kids Talk About the Civil Rights Movement With the People Who Made It Happen. New York, NY: Knopf, 1997.
King, Martin Luther, and Coretta Scott King. I Have a Dream. [S.I.]: Scholastic Trade, 1997.
*Landau, Elaine. The Civil Rights Movement in America: 1954–1968. New York, NY: Children’s Press, 2003.
Lester, Julius. Let’s Talk About Race. New York, NY: Harper Collins, 2005.
*Lommel, Cookie. African Americans in Film and Television. Philadelphia: Chelsea House Publishers, 2003.
Meany, John. Has the Civil Rights Movement Been Successful? Chicago, IL: Heinemann Library, 2009.
Parks, Rosa, and Gregory J. Reed. Dear Mrs. Parks: A Dialogue With Today’s Youth. [S.I.]: Lee & Low Books, 1996.
Parks, Rosa, and James Haskins. Rosa Parks: My Story. New York, NY: Dial Books, 1992.
Pinkney, Andrea Davis, and J. Brian Pinkney. Sit-in: How Four Friends Stood Up by Sitting Down. New York, NY: Little, Brown and Company, 2010.
Ringgold, Faith. If a Bus Could Talk: The Story of Rosa Parks. New York, NY: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, 1999.
*Shelton, Paula Young, and Raúl Colón. Child of the Civil Rights Movement. New York, NY: Schwartz & Wade Books, 2010.
Shore, Diane ZuHone, Jessica Alexander, and James Ransome. This Is the Dream. New York, NY: Harper Collins Publishers, 2006.
Stotts, Stuart, Terrance Cummings, and Pete Seeger. We Shall Overcome: A Song That Changed the World. Boston, MA: Clarion Books, 2010.
Tackach, James. Brown V. Board of Education. San Diego, CA: Lucent Books, 1998.
Turck, Mary. Freedom Song: Young Voices and the Struggle for Civil Rights. Chicago, IL: Chicago Review Press, 2009.
Juvenile Publications: Fiction
Armstrong, William H., and James Barkley. Sounder. New York, NY: Harper & Row, 1969.
Burg, Shana. A Thousand Never Evers. New York, NY: Delacorte Press, 2008.
The black residents, including seventh-grader Addie Ann Pickett, in the small town of Kuckachoo, Mississippi, begin their own courageous struggle for racial justice in 1963.
Coleman, Evelyn. White Socks Only. [Illinois]: Albert Whitman & Co., 1996.
Grades 3 and up, picture book, contains some violent content.
Crowe, Chris. Mississippi Trial, 1955. New York, NY: P. Fogelman Books, 2002.
In 1955, a sixteen-year-old from Mississippi finds himself at odds with his grandfather over issues surrounding the kidnapping and murder of a fourteen-year-old African American from Chicago.
Draper, Sharon M. Fire from the Rock. New York, NY: Dutton Children’s Books, 2007.
In 1957, Sylvia Patterson’s life is disrupted when she is selected to be one of the first black students to attend the previously all white school of Central High in Little Rock, AR.
Hooks, Bell. Skin Again. New York, NY: Hyperion Books for Children, 2004.
Kindergarten – 5th grade, picture book.
Magoon, Kekla. The Rock and the River. New York, NY: Aladdin, 2009.
In 1968 Chicago, fourteen-year-old Sam Childs is caught in a conflict between his father’s nonviolent approach to seeking civil rights for African Americans and his older brother, who has joined the Black Panther Party. Note provided by Worldcat.
*Nelson, Marilyn. A Wreath for Emmett Till. New York, NY: Houghton Mifflin Books for Children, 2005.
Poetry, grades 9 and up
Winslow, Vicki. Follow the Leader. New York, NY: Bantam Books, 1997.
Audio/DVD/video resources marked with an asterisk (*) are traveling with the educational materials for this exhibit.
Chafe, William Henry. Remembering Jim Crow: African Americans Tell About Life in the Segregated South. New York, NY: New Press, 2001. 2 Discs
*Holiday, Billie, et al. Let Freedom Sing: The Music of the Civil Rights Movement. [New York]: Time Life, 2009. 3 Discs
Sing for Freedom: The Story of the Civil Rights Movement Through Its Songs. Washington, DC: Smithsonian/Folkways Records, 1990.
Smithsonian/Folkways Recordings, and Smithsonian Institution. Voices of the Civil Rights Movement Black American Freedom Songs, 1960-1966. Washington, DC: Smithsonian Folkways, 1997.
*SOFA Entertainment, Motown. Motown Gold from the Ed Sullivan Show. Miami Beach, Florida: Sofa Entertainment, 2011.
Dickoff, Micki, and Tony Pagano. Neshoba: The Price of Freedom. New York, NY: First Run Features, 2010. This film tells the story of a Mississippi town still divided about the meaning of justice, 40 years after the murders of civil rights workers James Chaney, Andrew Goodman and Michael Schwerner, an event dramatized in the Oscar-winning film Mississippi Burning.
*Documania Films, Sierra/Tango Productions, CBS News Productions, Team Video Productions (Firm), History Channel (Television network), New Video Group, Black Audio Film Collective, British Broadcasting Corporation, Arts and Entertainment Network, and ABC News Productions. Voices of Civil Rights. [New York, NY]: History Channel, 2008. 2 Discs.
Elwood, William A., Mykola Kulish, and Steven A. Jones. The Road to Brown. San Francisco, CA: California Newsreel [distributor], 2004.
The Road to Brown presents the role of Charles Hamilton Houston in the cases which led to the landmark Supreme Court case of Brown vs. Board of Education. The film gives a history of segregation, Jim Crow Laws, the NAACP, and biographical information on persons influential in the desegregation movement.
Greenberg, Bob, et al. Amos ‘n’ Andy: Anatomy of a Controversy. [Chicago, IL]: International Historic Films, 2004 (1983).
This film takes a look at the controversial radio and television show and attempts to determine if the series was a positive first step for Blacks into the world of entertainment or not. It examines the role of the NAACP in the show’s removal from the airwaves in 1966.
*Hampton, Henry, and Julian Bond. Eyes on the Prize: America’s Civil Rights Years 1954-1965. Alexandria, VA: PBS Video, 2005 (1987).
This film tells the story of the civil rights era from the point of view of the ordinary men and women whose extraordinary actions launched a movement that changed the fabric of American life, and embodied a struggle whose reverberations continue to be felt today.
Kaelin, J. C., and Madeline Anderson. Black Civil Rights Films. [United States]: Earthstation1.com, 2004. Ranging from 1937 to 1965, this compilation DVD includes 10 short films on the Black experience in America.
Let Freedom Sing: How Music Inspired the Civil Rights Movement. [S.I.]: Time Life Entertainment, 2009.
Nelson, Stanley, Laurens Grant, Raymond Arsenault, and Tom Phillips. American Experience: Freedom Riders. [United States]: PBS Distribution, 2011.
Riggs, Marlon. Vivian Kleiman, Producer. Color Adjustment. DVD and Educational Streaming, 1991.
Color Adjustment traces 40 years of race relations through the lens of prime time entertainment, scrutinizing television’s racial myths and stereotypes.
Sturman, Guttentag and Dah. Danny Glover, Producer. Soundtrack for a Revolution. PBS Distribution, 2011. DVD, 1 Disc.
Hear protest songs that energized the U.S. civil rights movement, with original performances by John Legend, Joss Stone, Blind Boys of Alabama, Richie Havens, Mary Mary, Wyclef Jean, and The Roots. Soundtrack for a Revolution, produced by Danny Glover, blends archival footage of civil rights leaders in the 1950s and ’60s with current interviews from those who were there: Harry Belafonte, Andrew Young, John Lewis, and Julian Bond, and more.
For All the World to See: Visual Culture and the Struggle for Civil Rights – Online Exhibition
Dedicated to the original For All the World to See exhibition, this site features images and text from the show, helpful educational resources (activities and lessons plans), and film suggestions.
For All the World to See: Visual Culture and the Struggle for Civil Rights, Curator Tour, WNET Sunday Arts, 1 August 2010
Curator Maurice Berger’s Emmy Award–nominated tour of For All the World to See on the New York public television program, Sunday Arts, with a tour by curator Maurice Berger.
American Treasures of the Library of Congress – Online Exhibition
This site shows images from the civil rights struggle by Danny Lyon, the first staff photographer for the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC).
Black Film Center/Archive – Indiana University, Bloomington
The Black Film Center/Archive is a repository of films and related materials by and about African Americans and maintains a database of over 8,000 films. Visit the website to see early short films or to browse the film and photography collection by name, title, or director.
Brown v. Board of Education – National Park Service
Learn about the story and people of Brown v. Board of Education, which ended legal segregation in public schools. The “For Teachers” section provides curriculum materials, a link to available guest speakers, and additional web resources. “For Kids” provides educational activities for children.
Civil Right Movement Veterans
An excellent website for commentary and images of the civil rights movement.
The Civil Rights Project
The Civil Rights Project/Proyecto Derechos Civiles seeks to renew the civil rights movement by bridging the worlds of ideas and action and to deepen the understanding of the issues that must be resolved to achieve racial and ethnic equity as society moves through the great transformation of the 21st century. The website provides recent K–12 research in civil rights and diversity, links to civil rights organizations and legal search engines, information about publications, and research tools.
The Gordon Parks Museum – Center for Culture and Diversity
This center celebrates the life and work of Gordon Parks, and uses his life story to teach about artistic creativity, cultural awareness, and the role of diversity in our lives. The website provides a timeline and biography, as well as lists of the artist’s films and books.
I Am a Man – From Memphis, A Lesson in Life (Documentary)
Watch the documentary I Am a Man, featuring Elmore Nickleberry, who was one of the African American workers who went on strike in 1968 to protest the discrimination by the Memphis, Tennessee, sanitation department. Also, download the documentary curriculum guide.
Levine Museum of the New South
This interactive history museum located in Charlotte, North Carolina, explores post-Civil War ideas, people and places of the New South.
Little Rock Central High School – National Park Service
Learn about the historic events of desegregation that took place at Little Rock Central High School in Arkansas. The site provides information about the Little Rock Nine (the students that desegregated the school in 1957) and the history of the school. Also view photographs and short video segments from the park’s oral history collection. Click “For Teachers” and “For Kids” for curriculum materials, guest speakers, activities, and other resources.
The Museum of Broadcast Communications – Resources/ Civil Rights Collection
K–12 teachers and students can see or hear 217 television and radio programs documenting the struggle for civil rights in America. This free online resource features a searchable database and on-demand video and audio programs.
Museum of the Moving Image
This website features Moving Image Source (a guide to the best online resources related to film, television, and digital media) and The Living Room Candidate (presidential campaign commercials from 1952 to 2008; includes links to lesson plans and other online resources).
The website features several news and media lesson plans for elementary, middle school, and high school students. Suggested lesson plans include News Confusion: What is News? and Today’s Front Pages.
National Civil Rights Museum
Find other useful civil rights resources here.
The Paley Center for Media
This section of the Paley Center website discusses television’s role in the struggle for American civil rights. Click on “Get up! Stand up! The Civil Rights Movement and Television” for an engaging lesson plan. Also view two broadcasts from 1961: Walk in My Shoes (ABC) and Who Speaks for Birmingham (CBS).
The Power of Pictures in the Struggle for Civil Rights – NPR
Curator Maurice Berger discusses the focus of the exhibition For All the World to See.
Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture – New York Public Library
The Schomburg Center has collected, preserved, and provided access to materials documenting black life, and promoted the study and interpretation of the history and culture of peoples of African descent. The website features online exhibition, digitized books, image and illustrations, audio/visual resources, and selected links.
A Soundtrack for a Revolution – American Experience (PBS)
This PBS program tells the story of the American civil rights movement through its powerful music. Special features of the program’s website include timelines of the movement, related books and websites, and lyrics of freedom songs.
Teaching Tolerance – Using Photographs to Teach Social Justice (Lesson Plans)
Each lesson of this twelve-lesson series focuses on a contemporary social justice issue. The lessons are multidisciplinary and geared toward middle and high school students. Suggested activities: Exposing Racism, Confronting Unjust Practices, and Advertisements Promoting Activism.
Unity Productions Foundation
The mission of this non-profit is to “work for peace through the media.” Explore how they achieve this through documentary films, dialogues and engaging Hollywood.
Educational Museum Activities
Download these activities here.
Activity One: In Our Lives, we are…
Age Appropriateness: grades 4 and up
Time Needed: 1 –2 hours, with some pre-visit preparation
Introduction: For All The World to See: Visual Culture and the Struggle for Civil Rights explores the notion that at its worst, media can narrowly define us. At its best, media can motivate, inspire, and produce social change. This activity may require pre-registration so that you can adequately prepare participants. Registered participants are invited to bring in 5 -10 photos (or photocopied pictures) that they feel “help tell the story of who I am.”
- Several copies of recent magazines that represent a wide array of backgrounds. This might include AARP publications; fashion magazines like Seventeen, Redbook, Glamour, Vogue; parenting magazines; travel and leisure magazines; sports magazines like ESPN and Sports Illustrated; fitness magazines; pictorial and news magazines like TIME, Newsweek, People, Essence, Ebony; and business magazines like Black Enterprise, Forbes, Business Week, etc.
- Optional: internet access and printer for participants to download and print online images
- Scissors and glue sticks for each participant
- Heavy card stock paper, 8 1/2 x 11”
- If participants have brought in their own photographs, you may consider making photocopies of these before beginning the project.
- Ask participants their thoughts about the last section of the exhibit, entitled “In Our Lives We are Whole: Snapshots from Everyday Life.” Ask them how they felt at the end of the exhibit. Did the conclusion offer a sense of optimism?
- Contrast this section of the exhibit with other sections that focused on either negative or extremely narrow castings of an entire group of people. What do the photographs we keep at home, often considered that one item we would run back in to a burning house to retrieve, contribute to our lives and our identities?
- In an era of media saturation, we continue to be bombarded with images that don’t give accurate representation of who we are at our most personal level. These images create expectations for both young and old, for people of all backgrounds – that we should strive, even as a complex and diverse group of people, to model our appearance, our finances, our politics, and our livelihoods after media subjects and representations.
- In this activity, participants will have an opportunity to examine and graphically illustrate print media’s version of who they are or should be. The cover of this collage project represents exterior expectations placed on individuals by the media world; the inside pages display the true richness of the individual through the incorporation of personal photographs and/or statements. Symbolic images and graphic statements cutout from print media could also be added to the collage.
- To begin, participants should locate an image from a magazine or online source that perpetuates an “ideal” standard or extremely narrow interpretation of an individual or social group similar to the participant’s own. Instruct the participant to study the image and note their initial emotional reaction. Is this image, this personification of your social group achievable? Is it accurate and representative? What kind of message is the visual image trying to communicate to the public? What does it communicate to you, the participant?
- Next, instruct participants to fold the sides of length-wise paper inwards, creasing as the edges meet in the middle– in essence, they are creating a “double door.” Participants will then paste the “ideal” images on the outside. They can also use words or phrases that represent expectations or negative messages. The interior of the folded paper will contain images (from the participants own collection), words and phrases that give life to the richness of the true individual.
- Consider displaying these collages in an adjacent gallery with the participant’s permission.
Activity Two: I AM
Age Appropriateness: grades 4 & up
Time Needed: 1-2 hours
Introduction: From curator Maurice Berger: “The stark “I AM A MAN” poster was published shortly after the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr. It stands as a tribute to the slain leader, a poignant reminder of the continued urgency of the struggle he died for. The design paid homage to the placards carried by black sanitation workers in the strike that brought Dr. King to Memphis on the day of his murder in April 1968, an event immortalized in a now iconic photograph by Ernest C. Withers.”
This activity explores the messages that we express about ourselves and the character traits that enable change. Participants will recreate a history-based and personal version of the “I AM A MAN” placard with an accompanying creative piece.
- 2 pieces of heavy card stock paper for each participant
- Pencils and markers
- Stencils of block letters (optional)
- Display mechanism
- Take program participants back through the exhibit to review section 3: “Let the World See What I’ve Seen”: Evidence and Persuasion. Target the Memphis sanitation workers photo by Ernest Withers. Begin a discussion about this photo by asking open-ended questions like: “What do you see in this photo?” “What do you see that makes you say that?”
- Return participants to program room and inform them that they will be completing their own placard. Recount the history behind the original poster:
In February of 1968, two African American Sanitation Workers in Memphis, Tennessee were crushed to death by the compactor mechanism on their trash truck. In a separate incident occurring the same day, 22 African American sewer workers were sent home without pay because of inclement weather while their white supervisors remained at work. About 2 weeks later, over 1,000 black sanitation workers in Memphis began to strike for better pay, safer working conditions, and union recognition. They created signs displaying the message “I Am a Man” in hopes that their humanity and dignity would be recognized.
- Have students pick one of the Civil Rights activists or legends featured in the exhibit whom they admire. Examples might include: a Memphis sanitation worker, Emmett Till, Malcolm X, Jackie Robinson, Gordon Parks, etc. Then, have participants select one character trait that this individual exemplifies. Examples might include: brave, determined, loyal, patient, passionate, courageous, innocent, strong, etc.
- On one side of the card stock paper, instruct participants to take 5-10 minutes to write about how this individual displayed this trait during the Civil Rights movement. Then on the opposite side, in the block letter style of the “I AM A MAN” placard, have participants write: “___(insert civil rights activist’s name)____ WAS ___(insert character trait)______. Example: JACKIE ROBINSON WAS COURAGEOUS.
- For the second half of this activity, ask participants to think of a time that they witnessed injustice, discrimination, or hatred. For younger participants, injustice defined is: acts or conditions that cause people to suffer hardship or loss undeservedly. A violation of a person’s rights; the term can also refer to unfair treatment of another or others: “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere” (Martin Luther King, Jr.). Writing prompts could include: Did you ever witness bullying in school, on the bus, or in your neighborhood? Have you ever seen someone being mistreated? When you look around your school or community, what seems unfair to you? On the second piece of card stock paper, have each participant take 5-10 minutes to write about their personal experiences with injustice.
- Next, ask participants what they can do to stop this kind of injustice from occurring again. Encourage them to look for examples in the behavior and actions of individuals from the civil rights movement. What trait would they need to possess or practice to combat injustice or unfairness? Once they have determined this trait, have them turn the second piece of card stock paper over. On the back side (opposite their personal stories) have each participant write (again in the block letter style of the “I AM A MAN” placard): “I WILL BE ___(insert character trait they will try to adopt to stop injustice)_______.”
- The result should be two graphically similar placards that can be displayed next to each other for a powerful reminder of the work we are called to do as members of a community. Example: JACKIE ROBINSON WAS COURAGEOUS. I WILL BE STRONG or EMMETT TILL WAS INNOCENT. I WILL BE WATCHFUL. Participants can choose to NOT have their pieces displayed.
- Follow-up questions: How does it feel to make a statement on paper, “for all the world to see,” instead of verbally? What is the difference?
Quick Craft: Mobile Messages
Age Appropriateness: grades 4 & up
Time Needed: 1 hour
Introduction: From curator Maurice Berger: “Civil rights activists often turned to portable images—buttons, decals, brochures, comic books, and other artifacts—to disseminate persuasive messages meant to incite action or enthusiasm for political causes. These objects represented a variety of political causes, and include the campaign materials of black politicians as well as the broadsides of civil rights organizations. Their need to attract attention and their disposable nature inspired adventurous, spirited, and creative use of graphic design.”
During this activity, participants will create a graphic message on a button, bumper sticker, poster, or leaflet representing a cause they are passionate about.
Materials (for each participant)
- Button maker. To purchase, see: http://www.hobbylinc.com/htm/nsi/nsi33109.htm?source=froogle
- Blank bumper stickers. To purchase see: http://www.amazon.com/Glossy-White-Sheets-Bumper-Sticker/dp/B0043FWG7S
- Scratch paper
- 8 ½ x 11” paper (for brochure)
- 11 x 17” card stock paper (for poster)
- Markers, colored pencils, etc.
- Stamps and stamp pads, stencils (optional)
- Invite your visitors to revisit the section of the exhibit that focuses on portable messages (Section 3), specifically those objects that were made specifically for the March on Washington. Ask participants, “What stands out about these objects? Why were they used? Why were they effective?” Ask if anyone has something similar to these at home that they have saved as souvenir from participation in a social or political movement. Why did they keep the object? What does it mean to him/her?
- Ask each participant to think about a cause that is important to them. Ask stimulating questions like, “When you look at the world around you, what are you passionate about changing?” or “If you could change one thing about our community, what would it be?” Prior to designing their message, direct participants to create a word web. In a word web, they begin with placing a word or two describing their chosen cause in the middle of the paper. Outlying words circulate around the center words as new ideas, concepts, and descriptors emerge. It is similar to a flow-of-consciousness exercise.
- On an additional piece of paper or on the back side of the word web paper, ask participants to begin sketching symbols that represent their word web concept.
- Have participants choose a design format to convey their message. They can choose from a button, bumper sticker, poster, or leaflet.
- Follow-up questions: “Where would you display your mobile message?” “How would you promote it?” “Who would you hope sees your mobile message?” and “How has social media changed our ability to get the message out?”
Civil Rights Timeline
MAY 17: The U.S. Supreme Court’s unanimously ruled in the landmark case Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka, Kansas that public school segregation was unconstitutional and paved the way for desegregation. The decision overturned the 1896 Plessy v. Ferguson ruling that said “separate educational facilities were inherently unequal.”
AUGUST 27: While visiting family in Mississippi, fourteen-year-old Chicagoan Emmett Till was kidnapped, brutally beaten, shot and dumped in the Tallahatchie River for allegedly whistling at a white woman. Two white men, J. W. Milam and Roy Bryant, were arrested for the murder and acquitted by an all-white jury. They later boasted about committing the murder in a Look magazine interview. The case became a cause célèbre of the civil rights movement.
DECEMBER 1: Rosa Parks refused to give up her seat at the front of the “colored section” of a bus in Montgomery, Ala., to a white passenger, defying a southern custom of the time. In response to her arrest, the Montgomery black community launched a bus boycott that lasted over a year until the buses desegregated on Dec. 21, 1956. Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr., the newly elected president of the Montgomery Improvement Association (MIA), was instrumental in leading the boycott.
FEBRUARY 14: The Southern Christian Leadership Conference, comprised of Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr., Charles K. Steele and Fred L. Shuttlesworth, was established. King was the organization’s first president. The SCLC proved to be a major force in organizing the civil rights movement with a principle base of nonviolence and civil disobedience.
SEPTEMBER 2: Integration was easier said than done at the formerly all-white Central High School in Little Rock, Ark. Nine black students, who became known as the “Little Rock Nine,” were blocked from entering the school on the orders of Arkansas Governor Orval Fabus. President Eisenhower sent federal troops and the National Guard to intervene on behalf of the students, but a federal judge granted an injunction against the governor’s use of National Guard troops to prevent integration. They were withdrawn on Sept. 20, 1957.
FEBRUARY 1: Four black university students from N.C. A&T University began a sit-in at a segregated F.W. Woolworth’s lunch counter in Greensboro, N.C. Although they were refused service, they were allowed to stay at the counter. The event triggered similar nonviolent protests throughout the South. Six months later, the original four protesters are served lunch at the same Woolworth’s counter.
APRIL: The Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) was founded at Shaw University in Raleigh, N.C., providing young blacks with a more prominent place in the civil rights movement.
OCTOBER 1: James Meredith became the first black student to enroll at the University of Mississippi. President Kennedy sent 5,000 federal troops to contain the violence and riots surrounding the incident.
JUNE 12: Mississippi’s NAACP field secretary, 37-year-old Medgar Evers, was murdered outside his home in Jackson, Miss. Byron De La Beckwith was tried twice in 1964, both trials resulting in hung juries. Thirty years later, he was convicted of murdering Evers.
AUGUST 28: More than 250,000 people join in the March on Washington. Congregating at the Lincoln Memorial, participants listened as Martin Luther King delivered his famous “I Have a Dream” speech.
SEPTEMBER 15: Four young girls attending Sunday school were killed when a bomb exploded at the Sixteenth Street Baptist Church, a popular location for civil rights meetings. Riots erupted in Birmingham, Ala., leading to the deaths of two more black youth.
JANUARY 23: The 24th Amendment abolished the poll tax, which had originally been instituted in 11 southern states. The poll tax made it difficult for blacks to vote.
MAY 4 (FREEDOM SUMMER): The Mississippi Freedom Summer Project was organized in 1964 by the Council of Federated Organizations (COFO), a coalition of four civil rights organizations: the Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee (SNCC); the Congress on Racial Equality (CORE); the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) and the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC). The project was to carry out a unified voter registration program in the state of Mississippi.
The Congress of Racial Equality (CORE) began sending student volunteers on bus trips to test the implementation of new laws prohibiting segregation in interstate travel facilities. One of the first two groups of “Freedom Riders,” as they are called, encountered its first problem two weeks later when a mob in Alabama sets the riders’ bus on fire. The program continued and by the end of the summer, more than 1,000 volunteers, black and white, participated.
JULY 2: President Johnson signed the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The most sweeping civil rights legislation since Reconstruction, the Civil Rights Act prohibited discrimination of all kinds based on race, color, religion or national origin. The law allowed the federal government to enforce desegregation and prohibits discrimination in public facilities, in government and in employment. The “Jim Crow” laws in the South were abolished, and it became illegal to compel segregation of the races in schools, housing or hiring. Enforcement powers were initially weak, but they grew over the years, and later programs, such as affirmative action, were made possible by the Act. Title VII of the Act established the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC).
AUGUST 4: The bodies of three civil-rights workers—two white, one black—were found in an earthen dam. James E. Chaney, 21; Andrew Goodman, 21; and Michael Schwerner, 24, had been working to register black voters in Mississippi, and on June 21, went to investigate the burning of a black church. They were arrested by the police on speeding charges, incarcerated for several hours, and released after dark into the hands of the Ku Klux Klan, who murdered them.
FEBRUARY 21 MALCOLM X Assassinated.
MARCH (The Selma to Montgomery Marches): The Selma to Montgomery marches, which included Bloody Sunday, were actually three marches that marked the political and emotional peak of the American civil rights movement.
MARCH 7 (Bloody Sunday): Blacks began a march to Montgomery in support of voting rights, but were stopped at the Edmund Pettus Bridge by a police blockade in Selma, Ala. State troopers and the Dallas County Sheriff’s Department, some mounted on horseback, awaited them. In the presence of the news media, the lawmen attacked the peaceful demonstrators with billy clubs, tear gas, and bull whips, driving them back into Selma. The incident was dubbed “Bloody Sunday” by the national media, with each of the three networks interrupting telecasts to broadcast footage from the horrific incident. The march was considered the catalyst for pushing through the Voting Rights Act five months later.
MARCH 9: Ceremonial Action within 48 hours, demonstrations in support of the marchers, were held in 80 cities and thousands of religious and lay leaders, including Dr. Martin Luther King, flew to Selma. He called for people across the country to join him. Hundreds responded to his call, shocked by what they had seen on television.
However, to prevent another outbreak of violence, marchers attempted to gain a court order that would prohibit the police from interfering. Instead of issuing the court order, Federal District Court Judge Frank Minis Johnson issued a restraining order, preventing the march from taking place until he could hold additional hearings later in the week. On March 9, Dr. King led a group again to the Edmund Pettus Bridge where they knelt, prayed and to the consternation of some, returned to Brown Chapel. That night, a Northern minister who was in Selma to march, was killed by white vigilantes.
MARCH 21-25 (Selma to Montgomery March): Under protection of a federalized National Guard, voting rights advocates left Selma on March 21, and stood 25,000 strong on March 25 before the state capitol in Montgomery. As a direct consequence of these events, the US Congress passed the Voting Rights Act of 1965, guaranteeing every American 21 years old and over the right to register to vote.
AUGUST 10: Congress passed the Voting Rights Act of 1965, making it easier for Southern blacks to register to vote. Literacy tests, poll taxes and other such requirements that were used to restrict black voting were made illegal.
SEPTEMBER 24: President Lyndon Johnson issued Executive Order 11246 to enforce affirmative action for the first time because he believed asserting civil rights laws were not enough to remedy discrimination. It required government contractors to “take affirmative action” toward prospective minority employees in all aspects of hiring and employment.
JUNE 12: In Loving v. Virginia, the Supreme Court ruled that prohibiting interracial marriage was unconstitutional. Sixteen states that still banned interracial marriage at the time were forced to revise their laws.
AUGUST 30: Senate confirmed President Lyndon Johnson’s appointment of Thurgood Marshall as the first African American Justice of the US Supreme Court after he served for two years as a Solicitor General of the United States.
APRIL 4: Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., at age 39, was shot as he was standing on the balcony outside his hotel room at the Lorraine Motel in Memphis, Tenn. Escaped convict and committed racist James Earl Ray was convicted of the crime. The networks then broadcast President Johnson’s statement in which he called for Americans to “reject the blind violence,” yet cities were ignited from coast to coast.
APRIL 11: President Johnson signed the Civil Rights Act of 1968, prohibiting discrimination in the sale, rental and financing of housing.
Lessons for Educators
Lesson 1 includes the following. Download it here.
- Representations in Media curriculum
- The ME in MEdia curriculum
- “Analyzing Historical Photographs” worksheet
- “The ME in MEdia” worksheet
Lesson 2 includes the following. Download it here.
- Approaches to Social Change curriculum
- Online resources
Lesson 3 includes the following. Download it here.
- Character Education: Understanding Stereotypes curriculum
- “Stereotyping, Prejudice, and Discrimination In Focus” worksheet