Civil Rights of the 1960's Introduction

Civil Rights of the 1960's
Nearly 100 years after the Emancipation Proclamation, African Americans in
Southern states still inhabited a starkly unequal world of disenfranchisement,
segregation and various forms of oppression, including race-inspired violence.
“Jim Crow” laws at the local and state levels barred them from classrooms
and bathrooms, from theaters and train cars, from juries and legislatures. In
1954, the U.S. Supreme Court struck down the “separate but equal” doctrine
that formed the basis for state-sanctioned discrimination, drawing national and
international attention to African Americans’ plight. In the turbulent decade
and a half that followed, civil rights activists used nonviolent protest and civil
disobedience to bring about change, and the federal government made
legislative headway with initiatives such as the Voting Rights Act of 1965 and
the Civil Rights Act of 1968. Many leaders from within the African American
community and beyond rose to prominence during the Civil Rights era,
including Martin Luther King, Jr., Rosa Parks, Malcolm X, Andrew Goodman
and others. They risked—and sometimes lost—their lives in the name of
freedom and equality (
The 1960's was the first decade in which the majority of American
opinions were shaped heavily by the television. People could sit at
home and watch the progress of the Civil Rights Movement, the
Vietnam War, and other major stories, all while sitting around the
dinner table. You will be involved in the news coverage of some of
the major events of the decade. You will actually come in contact
with people who experienced many of the tumultuous events that
shaped this decade.
The Task
You will role play a position for a special newscast over a particular civil rights event.
After careful analysis of a particular historical event of the time period, your group
will produce a newscast presentation of that particular event.
The Process
First, you will be assigned to a group of ~4 students who will make up your
newscast. Each group will be assigned a particular newsworthy event of the era
which you will be assigned to cover. The following events will be covered by the
different groups:
Little Rock Public School Integration
Montgomery Bus Boycott
Birmingham Demonstrations
Selma Riots
Malcolm X
After your group and topic have been assigned, you will select a role to play within
your group. Each person will have a role with a special perspective to be learned.
Each of the following roles could be included within each group.
A news anchor with a major television network. This anchor must have a good
overview of the entire event, and be able to provide a good introduction to the
newscast. This person may also be able to inject one question to the newsreporter after
the witnesses have been questioned.
An investigative reporter with a major television network. This reporter must gain a
good overview of the entire event, and prepare questions of witnesses. This reporter
will also be responsible for providing a good introduction for the newscast, interviews
on camera, and a general summary.
A Central Participant of the event. This is one of the central characters who was
personally involved with the event. They should provide a unique perspective, and be
very persuasive in their discussion of what took place. Examples: Rosa Parks, whose
actions started the Birmingham bus boycott, or Martin Luther King Jr. who led the
March on Washington.
A personal witness of the event. This person is pro-civil rights movement. You will
need a name, occupation, and a personal experience from the event. The experience
should be detailed and vivid, and you should have personal opinions concerning what
happened. OR…..
A personal witness of the event. This person is anti-civil rights movement. You will
need a name, occupation, and a personal experience from the event. The experience
should be detailed and vivid, and you should have personal opinions concerning what
Your group should tentatively work out the roles for this project, but before
proceeding, your team should also confer with me to make sure the roles chosen are
the best for each topic.
Each person in every group will do research of the event covered. Each person
should take personal notes detailing what their involvement in the activity consisted
of. You should also keep track of the resources you used for this information.
The group will then create a simulated newscast to cover the event. All group
members should participate in their respective positions. The newscast can be given
live in class, or be recorded on videotape, and be about 5 minutes. Participants and
witnesses should be interviewed, and a two-sided overview of the event should be
presented. All facts should be accurate. Newscasts should be completed by the
deadline date, at which time they will be viewed and discussed in class.
In addition to your textbook and other classroom resources, check out the
following internet links which specifically address the event which your group is
to cover.
General Civil Rights - "Everyone Look at These"
Civil Rights Movement
The Rise and Fall of Jim Crow
Historic Places of the Civil Rights Movement National Register
Brown v. Board of Education
Little Rock (Ark) Public School Integration
Meet Central High 50th
Uniquely Arkansas/central-high
School Integration in Little Rock, Arkansas: Introduction
Remembering the Little Rock Nine
Montgomery (Ala) Bus Boycott
They Changed the World
Rosa Parks Profile
Colored Reflections - Rosa Parks
Bus Boycott
Birmingham (Ala) Demonstrations
Birmingham Civil Rights District
Birmingham 1963
Selma (Ala) Riots 1965
We Shall Overcome -- Selma-to-Montgomery March
Selma, AL: National Voting Rights Museum
Selma to Montgomery March
John Lewis- National Archives
Speech of Malcolm X (The group can select the
time and place that the speech took place. Primarily, you will outline his philosophy
concerning black-white relations in America.)
Biography of Malcolm X
Malcolm X History
The Official Web Site of Malcolm X
Malcolm X Biography
Interview with Malcolm X
The grade will be primarily a group grade given based upon the newscast
presented. In this grade, everyone will get the same grade for the presentation, but
each person's individual notes will also be turned in and included in the evaluation.
This means that if one person does not turn in their personal notes, they may get a
lower grade than someone in their group who does turn in their notes.
Check out Gradescale
Upon completion of this project, each student should have an awareness of what it felt
like to be involved in the civil rights movement. Students should clearly understand
the arguments for and against equal rights during the early 1960's. Students should
also be able to clearly discuss events of the time period, and the major strategies of
various movements within the era.