This website, a project of Teaching for Change, provides lessons, handouts, news, and resources for teaching about the role of everyday people in the Civil Rights Movement. On the site, you can find handouts and more information about many of the lessons in our book, Putting the Movement Back into Civil Rights Teaching.
The Civil Rights Movement is celebrated in our national narrative as a people’s struggle for social justice. However, the powerful stories of everyday people organizing and working together for social change are lost in the teaching of a few major heroes and dates. The effect is disempowering for our current and future generations that hope to make the world a better place. Students learn to believe the way that change happens is by following the next “big leader,” instead of an accurate history that emphasizes immense contributions from all people working together to make a difference.
Published by Teaching for Change and PRRAC for pre-K-12 educators, Putting the Movement Back into Civil Rights Teaching is a teaching resource book that emphasizes the power of people through a diversity of stories, perspectives, essays, photographs, graphics, interviews, and interactive and interdisciplinary lessons. The book includes sections on education, labor, citizenship, culture, and reflections on teaching about the Civil Rights Movement. The rationale and purpose of the book are outlined in the Introduction.
Putting the Movement Back into Civil Rights Teaching is being used in school districts and with community groups across the country. We are proud that the book is one of the featured titles at the National Museum of African American History & Culture (NMAAHC).
In a collaborative effort to bring this history to the classroom, Teaching for Change is an active partner in the Freedom Movement Educational Initiative. Other collaborators are the SNCC Legacy Project, Civil Rights Movement Veterans (CRMvet.org), Duke University's Center for Documentary Studies, Mississippi NAACP/One Voice, and the Veterans of the Mississippi Civil Rights Movement. The goal of this collaboration is:
To develop, promote, and disseminate educational curricula that will preserve and share the history of the struggle for human rights from the point of the view of the people who made the history. This will be done through the lens of the Black Freedom Struggle, which provides a model for how to achieve social change in a democracy—a model that is relevant to the issues faced by people around the world today.
The key sources of history for the collaborative projects are the SNCC Digital Gateway and CRMvet.org. The most recent projects were a 2017 Mississippi teacher institute at Tougaloo College and a 2018 National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) Teacher Institute at Duke University.
In addition, Teaching for Change partners with Rethinking Schools on the Zinn Education Project. The Zinn Education Project provides access to free downloadable lessons on the people's history of the United States from the pre-colonial era to today. These include many lessons and additional resources on the long history of the Civil Rights Movement and related struggles.