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The Civil Rights Movement

Posted on February 12 2023

The Civil Rights Movement


Dear Educator,

This week, as part of Black History Month, Maps101 is taking a look at the civil rights movement. Although the Emancipation Proclamation, ordered by President Abraham Lincoln in 1863, freed people who were enslaved, in reality, they had few rights and even fewer opportunities. As late as the 1950s, racial segregation was a fact of everyday life. That is nearly a century later! Jim Crow Laws were designed to impede Blacks from exercising their right to vote. Martin Luther King, Jr. and Rosa Parks, among many others, began organizing to ensure African Americans their rights. The movement culminated with the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prohibits discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex, or national origin. This week we’ll explore major events of the movement to achieve full rights, under the law; Rosa Parks and Martin Luther King, Jr.; civil rights cases in the courts; and the impact of the civil rights movement.
Maps are a fantastic way to start students on a new topic. They can function as a bellringer, projected on the board. This map identifies the locations of major events in the civil rights movement, such as the Montgomery bus boycott, the integration of Central High School in Little Rock, Martin Luther King’s assassination, and more. You can assign individuals or groups an event on the map to research further. You can also use the map to help students practice making a timeline.

On December 1, 1955, while seated on a bus in the segregated section meant for Blacks, Rosa Parks refused to give up her seat to a white man who had just gotten on. This act was the spark that propelled the civil rights movement. She and her husband were active members of the NAACP. Later, Rosa said of her refusal, “When I made that decision, I knew that I had the strength of my ancestors with me.” Students can read this article and learn more about this historic act by a single person that helped launch a movement that would lead to a new law guaranteeing civil rights.


Have students watch this short video on Martin Luther King, Jr. to help them understand his role in the civil rights movement. This is a great introduction to King’s role in the movement. Next, students can read an article about why there is a national holiday meant to celebrate his legacy.


On January 20th, Americans recognize the contributions of Martin Luther King, Jr., as that was his birthday. This exclusive GNN article explains what these contributions were and why he is so important to American culture. Under Supporting Materials, there are questions you can use to prompt classroom discussion.


Throughout U.S. history, there have been numerous court cases that addressed African Americans after the days of slavery. This Lesson Map fully explains these cases to students and provides the context they need to understand the importance of each. The teacher edition provides numerous, leveled suggestions for helping students understand the topics.


Finally, have students take an interactive tour of the impact of the civil rights movement with this Field Trip. They will learn about Brown v Board of Education and desegregation, sit-ins and freedom rides, the March on Washington, the Black Power movement, Affirmative Action, and more. You can use the student quiz at the end to check student understanding. We suggest you discuss race relations as they stand today, including the improvements that have been made and also the issues that continue to be a struggle.


This is a small sample of the kind of content available to you with a Maps101 subscription. We also have content on Ida B. Wells, the Little Rock Nine, Jim Crow, and more. Every week, the editors at Maps101 provide you with highlights from our extensive collection in this GeoJournal newsletter. We suggest you make a folder to store them for future reference. Expand your students’ world with Maps101!

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