2. Civil rights movement in the United States: Videos and activities

On this page you will find some suggestions and links to videos that can be used as well as teacher notes with suggestions as to how the videos can be used with students. 

More video clips can be found on the Paper 3 Americas section on civil rights: ATL: African Americans and the fight for civil rights and Civil Rights and social movements: videos 

1. Eyes on the Prize

This is an excellent series on the Civil Rights Movement. Below you will find suggestions for episodes and sections from this series that could be shown for the key events that students need to study. This could be used to introduce these events with the suggested questions, or as a follow up after they have done notes. Students should not which individuals and which civil rights organisations play key roles in each event. (Note that the People's Century video below covers some of these events more concisely)

LIttle Rock:

Watch the video below ‘Eyes on the Prize’, Episode 2 from 6 minutes in until 24 minutes to find out more about the events at Little Rock .

  1. What form did white opposition take to the students? What is your reaction to this?
  2. What points does Eisenhower make in his speech?
  3. What factors in the Little Rock case helped raise the profile of the civil rights movement?

The Montgomery Bus Boycott

Watch the video below ‘Eyes on the Prize’, Episode 1 from 26 minutes in  to find out more about the Montgomery Bus Boycott

  1. What factors led to the success of the Montgomery Bus boycott?
  2. How effective was Martin Luther King in leading this protest?
  3. What were the main results of the Montgomery Bus boycott for the civil rights movement in the US?

The lunch counter sit-ins

Watch the video below ‘Eyes on the Prize’, Episode 3 from 3 minutes in  to 18 minutes to find out more about the Woolworth lunch counter sit-ins.

  1. How were students prepared for taking part in the sit-ins?
  2. Why were the sit-ins not taken seriously at first?
  3. Why did the students make it hard for the police to take action against them?
  4. What other non-violent  tactics to African Americans use in Nashville?

The Freedom Rides

Go to 27 minutes 30 seconds to the end of Episode 3 to find out more about the Freedom Rides

  1. What was the aim of the Freedom Rides?
  2. What actions did whites take against the Freedom Riders?
  3. Why did they not get the protection that they had hoped for?
  4. What was the role of Robert Kennedy in helping the Freedom Riders? What was the reaction of the Governor of Alabama to this?

    The rise of Malcolm X

    Watch the video below ‘Eyes on the Prize’, Episode 7 from 5 minutes in to 15 minutes

    1. How did Nation of Islam promote the rights of African Americans?
    2. How do Malcolm X's style and message in his speeches differ from those of MLK? Are there any similarities?
    3. What was the reaction of white America to the Nation of Islam?

    2. Birmingham and Bull Connor

    Although the events in Birmingham are not mentioned directly on the syllabus, it is an important mile stone along the way to the Civil rights Act in 1964. This is a good short overview video on events leading up to Birmingham and the impact of Bull Connor. The key question to ask students while watching this video is, 'Why was Bull Connor an asset to the Civil Rights Movement?

    3. Rosa Parks interview

    Rosa Parks telling her story and how her actions led to the Montgomary bus boycott

    4. Movie: The Butler

    This is an excellent movie for showing the story fo the civil rights movement as the background to an African-American Butler's work in the White House. This is a section of the movie showing the sit-ins.

    5. People's Century: Skin Deep

    This is from the excellent People's Century series. This is the section on US civil rights (the other part of the video is on South Africa - see video page on this case study). It covers Little Rock, the lunch counter sit-ins, the Freedom Rides, March on Washington, Selma and the passing of the civil rights legislation. There are some great interviews and it provides a more concise alternative to the Eyes on the Prize videos above

    6. President Johnson the Civil Rights Act

    This highlights President Johnson's role in the passing of civil rights legislation following Kennedy's assassination. This could be shown in conjunction with reading the sources on Johnson on the ATL page and discussions on how important individuals were in the Civil Rights movement.

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