Civil Rights Movement
Meet the women who led the civil rights movement as organizers, political strategists, marchers, freedom riders, and more, from Fannie Lou Hamer to Ella Baker. Through their work in the movement, women were jailed, participated in sit-ins and other protests, and developed campaigns. They led school segregation efforts and some lost their lives in the battle for racial equality.
Investigate the court cases and legislation that advanced the fight for racial equality by challenging segregation and discrimination in education, housing, voting, and public accommodations. Famous cases argued before the U.S. Supreme Court, like Brown v. Board of Education, overruled traditional legal arguments for segregation, while legislation like the Civil Rights Act and the Voting Rights Act outlawed specific forms of discrimination.
Learn about the organizations that strategized and coordinated campaigns for civil rights, like the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC), the Congress of Racial Equality (CORE), and the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC). Each group had specific areas of focus, but collectively they shared goals and often worked together.
Explore the ways that civil rights activists challenged racial inequality through nonviolent protest. The philosophy of nonviolence was at the heart of the civil rights movement, expressed through music and campaigns like the Freedom Rides, the Montgomery bus boycott, and numerous sit-ins. Although nonviolent protesters often faced violence and/or jail time, they persisted.
Discover the leaders and organizations that advocated for “black power” as frustration with nonviolent strategies grew in the face of continuing legal and social resistance to civil rights. New groups, such as the Black Panther Party, the Black Women’s United Front, and the Nation of Islam, developed new cultural, political, and economic programs and grew memberships that reflected this shift.
Resistance and Backlash
Find out how civil rights activists faced resistance and retaliation from segregationists. Lawmakers, law enforcement officers, public officials, and private citizens all worked hard to maintain the status quo of racial inequality. Their tactics included violence, from Ku Klux Klan rallies to bombings, as well as political opposition to the desegregation of schools and public facilities.
Topic curated by Emily Gore, Digital Public Library of America