Civil Rights Movement Lesson for Kids: Facts & Timeline

Instructor: Anna Reinking

Anni taught elementary school for eight years and is currently teaching college. She received her Ed.D. in Curriculum and Instruction.

In this lesson, we'll learn about the Civil Rights Movement of the 1950s and 1960s. We'll explore where it began, as well as some famous people who were influential in the Civil Rights Movement.

Roots of the Civil Rights Movement

The Civil Rights Movement was a historic period when people in the United States worked hard to ensure African Americans had equal access to basic privileges. Early civil rights movements began in 1777 when Vermont abolished, or got rid of slavery; in the late 1700s, some northern states also made slavery illegal. However, the southern states did not agree with these laws and continued to enslave African Americans. These disagreements led to the American Civil War, which was a fight between the northern and southern states.

On January 31, 1865, the U.S. House of Representatives passed the Thirteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, which abolished slavery across the United States. Three years later, the Fourteenth Amendment was passed, which allowed freed slaves to become citizens. However, there was still discrimination against African Americans until the 1900s. In response to this discrimination, the NAACP, or the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, formed in 1909 as a way to provide legal representation for African Americans.

Civil Rights Movement in the 1950's

In 1954, the U.S. Supreme Court made a ruling in a case known as Brown vs. Board of Education of Topeka. In the ruling, the court declared that separating students in schools based on skin color was illegal.

In 1955, another influential event occurred. Rose Parks, a civil rights activist, refused to get up from her seat on a Montgomery bus in order to let a white passenger sit down. The police were called, and she was removed from the bus. Later she was found guilty and charged with a fine.

In response to this event, the head of the Montgomery chapter of the NAACP planned a boycott, or a protest, known as the Montgomery Bus Boycott. During this boycott, people were encouraged to avoid taking the bus as a way to protest the treatment Rosa Parks received.

Civil Rights Movement in the 1960's

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., who helped to form the Southern Christina Leadership Conference, a major civil rights organization, is most well known for his 1963 speech: 'I Have a Dream'. This speech spoke of the dreams he had for the future of the United States, which included a nation that did not judge people based on skin color but rather how they treat others.

Martin Luther King, Jr.

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