Civil Rights Movement (United States)

Where can I find information about the Civil Rights Movement in the United States?

Entry last updated: 24/09/18

Introduction

The American Civil Rights Movement began in the 1950s. It was a mass protest by African American people against segregation and discrimination based on race and colour. They fought for equal rights to education and jobs, and the freedom and right to represent themselves politically and legally.

Civil rights for African-Americans

Even after slavery was made illegal in the United Sates, African Americans did not enjoy the same freedom and rights as the white man. The websites below will guide you to the history of the Civil Rights Movement in America during the 1950s and 1960s and the reasons why this movement began.

Britannica School

Britannica School is a part of the EPIC databases which is a collection of reliable databases covering lots of different topics. It’s put together especially for New Zealand school students and has lots of information on the Civil Rights Movement in America.

  • Use search words like 'American civil rights' to bring up the page American Civil rights movement.
  • This page has links to articles, videos and images based on the background, history and important events that marked this movement.
  • We recommend you also explore the primary sources and links to articles and best websites to expand your understanding of this topic.
Tips: To get to the EPIC resources you will need a password from your school librarian first. Or you can chat with one of our AnyQuestions librarians between 1 and 6pm Monday to Friday and they will help you online. Some EPIC databases may also be available through your public library.

Khan Academy

This educational website offers information and instructional videos on various subjects for students to learn at their own pace. US history under Arts and humanities covers various eras and movements related to American history.

Tips: Search words, or keywords, are the most important words in our question. Usually it’s better to leave out small words like ‘the’, ‘a’ and ‘of’ and just choose the main ones, e.g civil rights movement. We can always change our keywords or add more if we need to.

The Black Past

This website was specially put together as an education resource on African American History. It has speeches, full text primary documents, bibliographies, timelines and links to digital archive collections.

We recommend you explore from the home page:

  • African American History to read about the individuals, events and people who shaped history, and
  • full text primary document for a time line of events and links to documents that contributed to segregation and discrimination.
Tips: Websites that have .org or .net in the address can have good information, but you need to assess how reliable it is. Check the About us link on this website. That can tell you what the organisation’s mission and values are.

Protesters and activists

The website below will help you with information about some of the famous names, dates and movements that are associated with the American Civil Rights Movement.

Biography in Context

Biography in Context is also part of the EPIC databases. You will find here biographies of famous people and the role they played in the Civil Rights Movement.

  • Type in names such as 'Martin Luther King', 'Rosa Parks' and 'Malcolm X' or any other names connected to the Civil Rights Movement.
Tips: When looking for info on famous people we always recommend trying to find their official website first or websites on biographies like Biography in Context, as the information is likely to be more accurate than fan sites.

Civil Rights Digital Library

This website has a rich variety of education content on the Civil Rights Movement and how it shaped democracy in America. Browse the links on the left hand side of the page.

  • Events has links to protests like the Selma-Montgomery March .
  • People has information on Thurgood Marshall , the attorney who won the Brown v. Board of Education case.
  • Media Types has a range of primary sources such as diaries, oral histories and photos.
Tips: A website’s address (URL) can give you a hint about how reliable it is. Look for addresses in the results that include .gov or .edu in the URL. These are quality sites from overseas government or educational organisations.

Impact and legacy

There were many changes in laws and policies during the 1950s and 1960s in America. The sites here will cover these changes and the work of Martin Luther King and others like him who had a huge impact on African Americans and their fight for equal rights.

The Martin Luther King, Jr. Research and Educational Institute

This Institute, which is a part of Standford Universtiy supports a broad range of online resources that help us understand more about Martin Luther King and his impact on the Civil Rights Movement.

  • Go to King Resources then King Resources Overview.
  • You will find links to the famous 'I Have a Dream ' speech and Primary documents.
  • Check out Major King Event Chronology a timeline of major events in Dr King's life until his assassination.
Tips: We like sites that are from government or other reputable organisations, because we can trust the information. You can sometimes tell these sites by their web address – they might have .gov or .edu in their address – or by looking at their About us or Contact pages.

Student Resources in Context

Also one of the EPIC databases, Student Resources in Context offers reliable information on topics like the Civil Rights Movement.

  • Search for 'civil rights movement'.
  • Choose a Topic overview like Civil Rights Movement, or you can look at articles, videos, images, Case overviews and more.
  • Use advanced search to add keywords like 'impact' and 'legacy' to your search.
Tips: To get to the EPIC resources you will need a password from your school librarian first. Or you can chat with one of our AnyQuestions librarians between 1 and 6pm Monday to Friday and they will help you online. Some EPIC databases may also be available through your public library.

NAACP

Founded in 1909, the NAACP (National Association for the Advancement of Colored People) is America's oldest, largest and most recognised organisation that advocates for civil rights.

  • Choose What we do, then select 'About the NAACP'.
  • Look down the page for NAACP Game Changers to read about areas of inequality in the 21st century.
  • Go to NAACP History to read the reason for the formation of the NAACP and its and historical milestones.
Tips: You will notice that this organisation is active by the updates on its homepage. Updates on a website are good way of confirming that the site is current.

Primary Sources

First hand accounts such as diaries, photos, eye witness accounts, video recording etc are good examples of primary sources of the African Americans and their fight for equality.

Library of Congress

The Library of Congress, the largest library in the world belongs to the American government. Their website has some amazing primary source sets related to the Civil Rights Movement.

The National Archives

The National Archives is official archive and publisher for the UK government. The website has some original documents related to this period in American history.

  • Scroll down and select Education, then select Post war 1945 -present.
  • Find the classroom resource called Civil Rights in America.
  • These primary document relate to protests, racial tension and state and federal government response to calls for equal rights.
Tips: For more primary sources on this topic refer to Britannica School, Black Past, Civil Rights Digital Library and The Martin Luther King, Jr. Research and Educational Institute in this entry.

Books

There are some great books about the American Civil Rights Movement - check out your local public or school library to see what they have.

Some recommended titles are:

SCIS no: 1888924
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