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Making a Change: The Civil Rights Movement and the First Amendment – for Students

Students watch and discuss a Newseum-produced documentary about the role of the First Amendment freedoms in the civil rights movement and in protests today.

How did civil rights activists use their individual freedoms (speech, press, religion, assembly and petition) to demand change? How did Martin Luther King Jr. harness the power of the news media? Students learn about this important chapter in U.S. history and how the First Amendment was used as a vehicle for social change. A documentary based on primary sources looks at key dates in the movement and the press’s role in covering the push for equality.    


Gallery Guide - Making a Change PDF DOC
Unit - Making a Change PDF DOC
Handouts - Making a Change PDF DOC

To request a large print or Braille version, call 202.292.6650.

Booking Information

This class requires a minimum of 12 students and a maximum of 36 students in the Learning Center classroom or 100 students in the Documentary Theater. Groups larger than class capacity will be assigned staggered class times based on your group’s window of availability. 

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How to register and enroll

Classes must be requested at least one week in advance. Please be advised that your preferred date may not be available, so have at least two dates in mind. We recommend arriving at the Newseum no later than 15 minutes before your scheduled class time.

Cancellation policy:

When a school fails to appear for its schedule Newseum class, it prevents other schools from using that slot. Please notify us at least one week in advance if you must cancel your reservation.

Accessibility Questions?

Assistance (e.g. ASL interpretation, assistive listening, description) for programs/tours can be arranged with at least seven business days’ notice. Please contact AccessUs at or by calling 202/292-6453.

  • Topics:
    Civil Rights
    News & Media
    Voting Rights
  • Theme:
    Historical Connections
  • Level:
    Students | Grades: 7-12, university
  • Cost:
    Free; Newseum admission required
  • Duration:
    50 minutes
  • Days Offered:
    Monday through Friday
  • Times Offered:
    9:30 a.m. Learning Center and Documentary Theater
    10:45 a.m. Learning Center and Documentary Theater
    12:15 p.m. Learning Center and Documentary Theater
    1:30 p.m. Learning Center and Documentary Theater
  • Capacity:
    Max 36 in the Learning Center
    Max 100 in the Documentary Theater
  • Minimum Enrollment:
    12 participants
  • Grades:
    Middle School
    High School
    College & University
  • Format:
    At the Newseum

EDTools featured in this session

EDClasses & Training related to this class

  • Online and/or Newseum Learning Center

    Navigating NewseumED

    In this hands-on introduction to our website, you'll learn how to find primary sources, videos, lessons and interactives to support your learning objectives in the classroom or on a field trip.

    This class is for:

    • Educators
  • Newseum Learning Center

    Battle for the Bill of Rights

    Through role-play and debate, students learn about Federalists, Antifederalists and the creation of the Bill of Rights.

    This class is for:

    • Students
  • Newseum Learning Center and/or Documentary Theater

    Free Press in America

    Through a case-study format, participants learn about the five freedoms of the First Amendment, limits to the freedom of the press and discuss modern day challenges driven by new technologies.

    This class is for:

    • Professionals


Incorporate NewseumED resources in your classroom or enrich your research project with rare, hi-res primary sources.


Dive into specially curated collections of primary sources and lessons on civil rights, women's suffrage and more.


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