Civil Rights Movement Leaders & Heroes: Lesson for Kids

Instructor: Jennifer Lowery

Jennifer has taught elementary levels K-3 and has master's degrees in elementary education and curriculum/instruction and educational leadership.

Civil rights leaders made important changes in the history of the United States. In this lesson, learn about some leaders and heroes who worked hard to make the lives of African Americans better.

Separate But Equal

How would you feel if you were forbidden to go to a certain restaurant or store? Or if you weren't allowed to go to the same school as your best friend? Sadly, for a long time in America schools and public places were segregated. This meant that white and black people had to go to separate places.

Many people disagreed with segregation, and they protested to get laws changed. This was the Civil Rights movement, and it lasted from 1954 to 1968. When you think of the Civil Rights movement in America, names like Martin Luther King, Jr. and Rosa Parks probably come to mind. They were leaders whose names now symbolize what we know of the movement.

Martin and Rosa had some help with their efforts. Thanks to the many people who battled segregation, the Civil Rights Act of 1968 was signed by President Lyndon B. Johnson. It made discrimination illegal. Discrimination is the unfair treatment of someone due to their race, gender, or religion.

President Johnson signed the Civil Rights Act of 1964 with Martin Luther King, Jr. looking on.
Lyndon Johnson

Let's learn about some of those people who fought for civil rights.

Fannie Lou Hamer

What would it be like living with nineteen brothers and sisters? Probably crowded! Fannie Lou Hamer, who was born in 1917, was one of twenty children. Her family made money by sharecropping, which meant they could grow crops on some land but had to pay the landowner money to use that land.

Fannie attended a protest meeting in 1962, where she and others decided they wanted to register to vote. After doing this, she was fired from her job because her employer didn't support African Americans' right to vote. This motivated her to become involved in the Civil Rights movement. She worked for an organization called the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC). This was a group of African American students who fought for equal rights throughout the South.

Fannie Lou Hamer risked her life to help make the lives of African Americans better.
civil rights

Fannie Lou Hamer's work helped to improve the lives of African Americans throughout the country, but these efforts came with a price. As a protestor she was shot at and arrested, and in jail she was beaten.

Ralph Bunche

Ralph Bunche was another activist in the fight against discrimination. He helped Martin Luther King, Jr. lead a march in Montgomery, Alabama. And he became a leader in the United Nations, working to find peaceful solutions to problems around the world.

Ralph Bunche worked Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and with the United Nations.
peace prize winner

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