People and Events from the Civil Rights Movement

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People and Events from the Civil Rights Movement

Cheryl Surles

Cheryl Surles

Annotated Bibliography

H 575, Spring 2012

April 25,2012

People and Events from the Civil Rights Movement


America was built on slave labor. From the Revolutionary War until the Civil War, our country depended on slave labor for its economy. But after the Civil War, slavery was outlawed. African Americans were free at last…but were they? In the Deep South a black person, even though they were free, was not treated the same as a white person. Many blacks were unable to get jobs and many had to resort to be domestic workers for very little pay and got very little, if any, respect. Even more disappointing to the black population, freedom was not truly freedom. Blacks were not allowed to eat in certain restaurants, drink from white drinking fountains, sit where they wanted in a movie theatre, ride in the front of a bus, swim in certain pools, or go to the restroom in certain public restrooms to name a few injustices. Because of the color of their skin, they were denied these and other rights that white people in America had.

Black people were not the only people to want change. Many groups started to form in order to try and develop ways in which to create change. The NAACP, (National Association for the Achievement of Colored People) SNCC, (Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee) CORE, (Congress of Racial Equality) and SCLC, (Southern Christian Leadership Conference) were formed to use Nonviolent tactics to bring awareness to the need for Civil Rights.

I believe that it is important to teach students of all backgrounds the struggles that black people faced in our country. By exposing my students to the people who were involved in the movement, letting the students get to know their stories, struggles and triumphs, I hope to raise their awareness of how important freedom for everyone is. I would like my students to understand that to mistreat a person just because of their skin color is wrong, and give them a sense of acceptance for humans of all race or nationality. Lastly, I want my students to go away with a sense that they can create change. You don’t have to accept things just because it is the way it has always been; you can go out and do something about it for the good of all people. The information in this bibliography is geared for the intermediate elementary level student.


Bausum, Ann. Freedom Riders: John Lewis and Jim Zwerg on the Front Lines of the Civil Rights Movement . Des Moines: National Geographic Children's Books; First Edition edition, 2005.

This is book is about two of the Freedom Riders, John Lewis and James Zwerg. It depicts their two separate childhoods, one growing up colored and the other growing up white. They both got involved in the Nashville student movement and then both became Freedom Riders. They volunteered to continue the Freedom Rides after the bus was set on fire in Anniston, Alabama. They continued into the Deep South and changed history for the entire nation. This book would be used as a resource for information about the Freedom Riders.

Blackside. Eyes on the Prize. August 23, 2006. (accessed April 15, 2012).

This web site has a list of documents that express various views of the Civil Rights Movement. Some examples of the primary sources included are: Letters from a Freedom Rider’s Father dated 1961, a document from Mississippi’s Governor, Ross Bennett titled: No School in our state will be integrated dated 1962, and a document that tells the Rules for riding desegregated buses from 1956. Many more documents from this period are also available. This would be a teacher resource but parts of the documents could be used by students as well.

Brown, Walter J. Civil Rights Digital Library: Documenting America's Struggle For Racial Equality. July 11, 2011. (accessed April 15, 2012).

This web site is a great resource for anything a teacher and possibly older students who are researching information about the Civil Rights Movement. There is a timeline with information on many of the events that took place from 1954-1068. It has information about the people involved in the movement as well as a list of topics. Also available is an Educator’s Resource link. This gives you access to worksheets, quizzes and various other teaching materials.

Bullard, Sara. Free At Last: A History of the Civil Rights Movement and Those Who Died in the Struggle. New York: Oxford University Press, USA, 1994.

This book can be used by students in upper elementary or higher, or by educators as a resource book. This book was written as part of the “Teaching Tolerance” program. It gives a brief description of blacks in the U.S., then goes through the Civil Rights Movement chronologically. There are great photos associated with the fight. The last section of the book covers 40 people, black and white, some who were well known, others who were not who were instrumental in the movement and lost their lives for the cause.

Cox, Julian. Road to Freedom: Photographs of the Civil Rights Movement, 1956-1968. Atlanta: High Museum of Art; First Edition edition, 2008.

This is a collection of photographs taken by many different photographers, photojournalists, artists, and amateurs during the Civil Rights Movement. Pictures include the sit-ins, marches, showdowns with armed police officers and National Guardsmen, Freedom riders, and others. Thousands of acts of courage were taken in order to obtain freedom and many of these acts were photographed and are part of this collection. Teachers and students will find this book useful in presenting the events for reports, power points or any other type of product that needs primary resource pictures.

Davis W. Houck, David E. Dixon. Women and the Civil Rights Movement, 1954-1965. Jackson: University Press of Mississippi, 2011.

This book is a teacher resource book that looks at the Civil Rights Movement and examines how sexual roles and values shaped the strategy, tactics, and ideology of the movement. Feminism normally deals with issues of patriarchy and prescribed gender roles, this book shows how race relations continue to complicate sex-based definitions within the Civil Rights Movement. It looks back on issue prior to the movement as well. It is important to teach the roles both men and women had in the movement.

Greenberg David, A Tugging String: A Novel About Growing Up During the Civil Rights Era. New York: Dutton Juvenile, 2008.

This book is written for a 4th grade or higher student. It is a historical fiction book based on the life of a 12 year old, Duvy Greenberg, whose father was a lawyer for Martin Luther King Jr. and the protestors who King led in the 1965 Voting Rights March. The book blends memoir, politics, history and fiction recreating the struggles associated with the movement. Duvy has his own worries being 12, but he is also terrified that his dad’s life is in danger of the Klan. Students can learn a lot of history through this novel.

jawain. The Civil Rights Movement in Pictures. June 25, 2007. (accessed April 20, 2012).

The is approximately 71/2 min. clip that has pictures of people, events , marches, protests and other happenings during the Civil Right Movement. These pictures are set to negro spirituals that were sung during the time period as well. This video could be used in isolation for certain pictures, or it could be used in a class to show the story of the movement. It would be interesting for students to view it after studying the people and the events.

King, Martin Luther Jr. I Have A Dream. Des Moines: Scholastic Paperback Nonfiction, 2007.

This book can be used at any age as a read aloud or by 4th graders on up as an independent read. The book is the entire “I Have A Dream” speech given by Martin Luther King Jr. 15 African artists depict a portion of the story of the Civil Rights Movement using their own vision to illustrate the book. These interpretations bring new perspectives to Dr. King’s words.

Leedom-Ackerman, Joanne. Short Stories of the Civil Rights Movement: An Anthology. Athens: University of Georgia Press, 2006.

This anthology is a group of short stories that look at the Civil Rights Movement from many different perspectives. Each story focuses on a moment in the struggle for social justice in America. The stories are grouped chronological with the events of the time period covering School Desegregation, Sit-ins, Marches and Demonstrations and Acts of Violence. This could be a great resource using the stories as read alouds, small group seminars, or even writing plays based on the stories.

McWhorter, Diane. A Dream of Freedom : The Civil Rights Movement from 1954 to 1968. New York: Scholastic Nonfiction, 2004.

This book written for 4th grade and up, gives a brief description of the emergence and the impact of segregation in the U.S. The chapters follow chronologically, highlighting pivotal events, people, successes, and failures of "The Movement." This book also goes into the covert manipulation of the FBI under J. Edgar Hoover. It also deals with the struggle between the Southern Christian Leadership Conference and the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, and the shift from nonviolence to Black Power.

Olson, Lynne. Freedom's Daughters: The Unsung Heroines of the Civil Rights Movement from 1830 to 1970 . New York: Scribner, 2002.

This book could be used as a teacher resource to obtain information about women’s roles in the Civil Rights Movement. This book spotlights many of the women who were leaders and spearheaded many of the campaigns and activities for the movement. Women such as Ida Mae Wells who led the anti-lynching campaign in 1892, and Mary White Ovington who helped start the NAACP in 1909, and women like Rosa Parks, Diane Nash and Ida Mae Holland, all women who were on the front lines of the movement. Also included are women such as Septima Clark and Fannie Lou Harner who are often neglected figures but receive tribute in this book.

Ottaiano, Mela. Read-Aloud Plays: Civil Rights . Des Moines: Scholastic , 2004.

Teachers and students can use these read aloud plays to learn more about Civil Rights and the people involved in the Movement. These read alouds can be used as reader’s theaters, or can be used to do dramatic interpretations in the classroom. The plays have background information as well as activities for students to research and explore. There are also age appropriate discussion questions for use in the classroom. These plays are for 4-8 grades.

rothSSteacher. Civil Rights Movement Overview. MRCH 29, 2008. (accessed April 20, 2012).

This clip is a power point that is set to a Negro spiritual. It has many still shots from the Civil Rights Movement and then words are inserted to highlight the struggles facing African Americans after the Civil War. This would be a good activity to show as a review after studying the movement, or as an example of a power point that students could put together as a culminating activity. Using all three media; words, pictures and music, it is very powerful. It could be used for 4-8 grade.

Shelton, Paula Young. Child of the Civil Rights Movement. New York: Schwartz & Wade, 2009.

This book can be used in any elementary classroom. The author was a daughter of a Civil Rights activist and uses her child’s perspective to interpret this time period. Paula, the author, grew up in the Deep South understanding that whites had and blacks did not. Her Uncle was Martin Luther King. She watched and listened to her family and their struggles being black and joined them in the march from Selma to Montgomery.

Thomas, William G. Television News of the Civil Rights Era 1950-1970. 2005. (accessed April 15, 2012).

This web site features first hand interviews of people that experienced events during the Civil Rights Movement. These interviews were excerpts from the Emmy winning film, “Massive Resistance”. Both video and transcripts are available on the site. Also linked to this web site is a valuable resource for teachers which include classroom applications and a glossary that includes both topics, with a complete explanation, and a list of people and how they were involved in the movement.

Turck, Mary C. Freedom Song: Young Voices and the Struggle for Civil Rights. Chicago: Chicago Review Press, 2008.

This book shows how songs of hope, faith, and freedom strengthened the Civil Rights Movement and helped serve as its voice. Churches and other groups used religious and secular music to electrify the movement. Music could be found everywhere, from rallies to marches to mass meetings. Songs were used to console people in jail, and to spread their message. One Chicago minister started a multi-raced choir to support the African American’s struggle for racial equality.

Turck, Mary. The Civil Rights Movement for Kids: A History with 21 Activities (For Kids series). Chicago: Chicago Review Press; 1st edition, 2000.

This book shows how children were instigators in the Civil Rights Movement. Barbara Johns led a rally in her school gym which led to the Brown vs. Board of Education Supreme Court school desegregation decision. Also how Ruby Bridges was the first black student to attend a desegregated elementary school in New Orleans alone. Also children will learn how religious leader and students worked together to help bring attention to the movement. Activities are available such as a reenactment of a lunch counter sit-in, holding a freedom film festival as well as organizing a choral group to sing the songs that motivated the movement.

Weatherford, Carole Boston. Freedom on the Menu: The Greensboro Sit-Ins. New York: Puffin, 2007.

This is a book written for k-3 but could be used as a read aloud at upper grades in order to understand perspective or point of view. In the book, Connie is a young African American who grew up in Greensburg, NC. She didn’t understand why she couldn’t buy a cold drink at Woolworth’s and then sit down and enjoy it. She also didn’t understand why there were places where she could not eat, swim or use the bathroom. After a visit from Dr. King Jr. her brothers and sisters became active in the NAACP trying to make change in the U.S. Eventually , she is able to place her order and sit down to enjoy it.

Williams, Juan. Eyes on the Prize: America's Civil Rights Years, 1954-1965 (African American History . New York: Penguin Books, 1988.

This book can be used in conjunction with the DVD series that was published by PBS or it can stand alone as a valuable resource. The book uses still photography from the same events covered on the DVD. The book recounts the struggles of the Civil Rights Movement but it purposely singles out little-known activists to highlight and tell their stories. Participants of the movement tell the events from their perspective through-out the book. This would be a great resource for both students and teachers to gain a better understanding of the events of the Civil Rights Movement.


When teaching American History we tend to focus on heroes or glorify those that we believe to be important in our history. Not all of our history is glorious. The treatment of blacks throughout our history is an embarrassment. You can’t help but wonder how anyone ever truly believed that it was “okay” to treat a human being the way we treated blacks. When the Civil Rights Movement began, people were “fed up” with being treated as second class citizens. Groups started to organize and try to develop strategies to bring about awareness to both sides: the people creating these injustices, and the people being unjustly treated. Many of these groups (such as SNCC and CORE) were centered on college age adults, ones who were ready to take action for a cause. Other groups (such as SCLC) were forming in churches. The majority of these groups were focused on Non-violent forms of protest. They knew what they wanted; they just had to come up with strategies to make those in charge understand how wrong discrimination was. I have been amazed at the “ignorance” that leaders in the Deep South exhibited. It is hard to understand that anyone can truly believe that the treatment blacks received was “okay” or deserving. To hear a person say that we should continue treating blacks unjustly because --that is how they have always been treated—is something even my fourth graders think is ridiculous.

I cannot begin to understand how it felt to be a black in the United States prior to the Civil Rights Movement. I do know it is important to teach children that discriminating against anyone because of their skin color, their ethnicity, or any other quality that makes them different from one another is wrong and I believe it is important for students to understand the importance of “freedom and justice for all” as given all of us by our Constitution.

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