The American Civil Rights Movement

Start a New Journal Page with the title of this Smore


After the abolition of slavery in the United States, three Constitutional amendments were passed to grant newly freed African Americans legal status:

In your Journal:

List the three Amendments to the constitution as a result of the abolition of slavery, be sure to include what rights each amendment gave.

The Thirteenth Amendment abolished slavery

The Fourteenth provided citizenship African americans

The Fifteenth guaranteed the right to vote to all male citizens.

In spite of these amendments and civil rights acts to enforce the amendments, between 1873 and 1883 the Supreme Court handed down a series of decisions that virtually nullified (cancelled out) the work of Congress during Reconstruction (Remember Reconstruction Era when slaves were recently freed and new laws were created to grant them stuff like citizenship and human rights).

Regarded by many as second-class citizens, blacks were separated from whites by law and by private action in transportation, public accommodations, recreational facilities, prisons, armed forces, and schools in both Northern and Southern states. In 1896 the Supreme Court approved legal separation of the races by its ruling in Plessy v. Ferguson, which said that separate but equal facilities did not violate the U.S. Constitution's Fourteenth Amendment.

Segregation - Write the definition in your journal using your own words.




noun: segregation

  1. the action or state of setting someone or something apart from other people or things or being set apart

2. The enforced separation of different racial groups in a country, community, or establishment.

  • "an official policy of racial segregation"

Court Cases: Plessy vs Ferguson

In your Journal:

What did Homer Plessy do in order to get arrested?

What did the courts decide in his case?

What was the new term used to describe the new American system of segregation?

Because of the Supreme court ruling in "Plessy vs Ferguson" different states were able to make Laws segregating (separating) society based on race. These various Laws were called "Jim Crowe Laws".

These Laws Were designed to keep White and "Colored" people separated. They were named after a fictional Folk Character of the time "Jim Crowe" Some of these laws are listed below.

In your Journal:

Summarize two of the Jim Crowe Laws listed below.

Jim Crow Laws

“It shall be unlawful for a negro and white person to play together or in company with each other in any game of cards or dice, dominoes or checkers.”
—Birmingham, Alabama, 1930

“Marriages are void when one party is a white person and the other is possessed of one-eighth or more negro, Japanese, or Chinese blood.”
—Nebraska, 1911

“Separate free schools shall be established for the education of children of African descent; and it shall be unlawful for any colored child to attend any white school, or any white child to attend a colored school.”
—Missouri, 1929

“All railroads carrying passengers in the state (other than street railroads) shall provide equal but separate accommodations for the white and colored races, by providing two or more passenger cars for each passenger train, or by dividing the cars by a partition, so as to secure separate accommodations.”
—Tennessee, 1891

In your journal:

How do you think people in contemporary (today's) society would react to these "Jim Crowe" laws and signs from the photos below?

In you Journal:

Write three sentences answering the question above.

!! Plessy Vs Ferguson is now overturned !!

!! Separate is no longer equal in the eyes of the US Supreme Court !!

In your Journal:

Why is "Unanimous" such an important word in the decision of Brown Vs Board of Education?

How does this decision change the USA?

How do you think Northerners feel about it?

How do you think southerners feel about it?

Jim Crowe Laws are now officially unconstitutional, but the journey to Equal Rights in America is just beginning.

In your Journal: Write 3 things you have learned so far, 2 Things you want to know about or find interesting and 1 Question you have.

Rosa Parks

What did she do to get arrested?

Why was the Non-Violent protest so effective?

How would the public have seen it if Rosa had been kicking and screaming while being arrested?

Martin Luther King Jr

Why was Dr, King raised up as a leader of the Civil Rights movement?

How did he believe the struggle would be won?

Do you agree or disagree with Dr, King?

Malcom X

Did all African Americans believe in Dr. Kings non violent approach?

Turn and Talk: What do you think is going to happen at an African Americna Civil rights (peaceful) rally in a town where the Sheriff is a KKK leader (violent)?

What was the social climate of the South during this time?

Why do you think that Deep southerners were so against desegration?

Do you think that all southerners were against the Civil Rights movement?

How did Eugene "Bull" Connor unintentionally help the Civil Rights movement?

Freedom Riders

In 1961 CORE undertook a new tactic aimed at desegregating public transportation throughout the south. These tactics became know as the "Freedom Rides".

The first Freedom Ride took place on May 4, 1961 when seven blacks and six whites left Washington, D.C., on two public buses bound for the Deep South. They intended to test the Supreme Court's ruling in Boynton v. Virginia (1960), which declared segregation in interstate bus and rail stations unconstitutional.

In the first few days, the riders encountered only minor hostility, but in the second week the riders were severely beaten. Outside Anniston, Alabama, one of their buses was burned, and in Birmingham several dozen whites attacked the riders only two blocks from the sheriff's office. With the intervention of the U.S. Justice Department, most of CORE's Freedom Riders were evacuated from Birmingham, Alabama to New Orleans. John Lewis, a former seminary student who would later lead SNCC and become a US congressman, stayed in Birmingham.

Freedom Riders

In your Journal:

If a Bus of Freedom Riders was being attacked in your front yard, what would you do? How would you, a 7th grader, react? (school appropriate answers please)

After writing or discussing your responses, watch the video below.

Freedom Riders Continued

CORE Leaders decided that letting violence end the trip would send the wrong signal to the country. They reinforced the pair of remaining riders with volunteers, and the trip continued. The group traveled from Birmingham to Montgomery without incident, but on their arrival in Montgomery they were savagely attacked by a mob of more than 1000 whites. The extreme violence and the indifference of local police prompted a national outcry of support for the riders, putting pressure on President Kennedy to end the violence.

The riders continued to Mississippi, where they endured further brutality and jail terms but generated more publicity and inspired dozens more Freedom Rides. By the end of the summer, the protests had spread to train stations and airports across the South, and in November, the Interstate Commerce Commission issued rules prohibiting segregated transportation facilities.

How were the Freedom Rides different?

(clue: it was not just African Americans)

The worse the treatment of the Freedom riders in the __________, the more people throughout the country saw how __________ the situation was for African Americans (human beings). Even whites throughout the country did not believe in the mistreatment and violence against ____________ Americans (human beings), even if they did believe in "Separate but Equal"

In August of 1963 over 200,000 Americans of all races and religions joined arm in arm with their fellow human being and peacefully marched to the Abraham Lincoln Memorial in order to gain attention to the need for Equal Rights in America. This was one of the largest political rallies in history.

Create a flyer, button or newspaper headline about "The Great March on Washington"

Be sure to include:


Why we will be marching

Where we will start and end

Who will be/should be there

What the goal is

How we should act

The end of "The Great March on Washington" is where Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. gave his "I have a dream" speech

In 3 to 5 sentences please answer the prompt: Do you think that Dr. King's dream has come true? Why or Why not?

Moment of Silence

Take 1 minute of not speaking to reflect about the battle that Americans of all races have fought in order to take a stand for Equality.

After the JFK assassination, the Civil Rights Act was shut down in the Legislative system until Lyndon B Johnson was inaugurated.

Lyndon B Johnson was Vice president under JFK. As Vice President, he would become president after the assassination.

JFK was assassinated in downtown Dallas.

Lyndon B Johnson was from Texas. (LBJ Freeway, Lady Bird Johnson was his wife) Having grown up in the South, he was raised with segregation and racism all around him. He had been very anti-civil rights during his congressional election campaigns in the past.

In Your Journal:

Why would Civil Rights Leaders be worried about a Texan President?

Think about it: It was obvious that LBJ struggled with both sides of the Civil Rights Issue, what do you think caused LBJ to finally embrace the Civil Rights Movement?

The law was divided up into 11 sections called titles.

- Title I - The voting requirements must be the same for all people.

  • Title II - Outlawed discrimination in all public places such as hotels, restaurants, and theatres.

  • Title III - Access to public facilities could not be denied based on race, religion, or national origin.

  • Title IV - Required that public schools no longer be segregated.

  • Title V - Gave more powers to the Civil Rights Commission.

  • Title VI - Outlawed discrimination by government agencies.

  • Title VII - Outlawed discrimination by employers based on race, gender, religion, or national origin.

  • Title VIII - Required that voter data and registration information be provided to the government.

  • Title IX - Allowed civil rights lawsuits to be moved from local courts to federal courts.

  • Title X - Established the Community Relations Service.

Civil Rights Act of 1964 Poster

With a partner, or small group, create a poster celebrating each of the Titles of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

You will have to research independently some of the things from these titles. Please remember that Wikipedia is not a good source for Academic research. Look for sources that are trusted and accurate.

For Each of the Titles 1 through 10 You Must Include:

- 1 Sentence summarizing the Title itself

- 1 sentence about how something in Today's world that is only possible because of that Title of the Civil Rights Act.

- A drawing that represents something about the Title of the Act.