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Historical Connections

MLK and Black History Month Resources

Hundreds of free online historical newspapers, videos and lesson plans draw connections to civil rights battles then and now.

Martin Luther King Jr. tells the crowd at the Prayer Pilgrimage for Freedom that "our most urgent request to the president … and every member of Congress is to give us the right to vote."

Moneta Sleet Jr./Ebony Collection/Associated Press

Updated Jan. 9, 2018

From Martin Luther King Jr.’s “Letter From Birmingham Jail” to a video on the press and the civil rights movement to a timeline on major events in the fight for racial equality,  NewseumED is your source for lesson plans and activities that can be used to observe MLK Day in January or Black History Month in February.

King understood the power of the First Amendment and used it to bring national attention to injustices. We have numerous resources for you to bring the civil rights leader, the First Amendment and the civil rights movement into your classroom and/or enhance a visit to the Newseum. (To access some of these resources, you must be signed into NewseumED; registration is free.)


On the NewseumED website 

Making a Change

Find more civil rights resources through our EDTools feature.

At the Newseum

  • “Making a Change: The Civil Rights Movement and the First Amendment” is a 50-minute class offered free to school groups visiting the Newseum. 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.  We’ve created a unit of pre- and post-visit lesson plans and activities.

    “Make Some Noise: Students and the Civil Rights Movement” explores the new generation of student leaders in the early 1960s who fought segregation by making their voices heard and exercising their First Amendment rights.

    “Make Some Noise: Students and the Civil Rights Movement” exhibit.

  • “Make Some Noise: Students and the Civil Rights Movement” is a Newseum exhibit on young adults in the early 1960s who fought segregation by making their voices heard and exercising their First Amendment rights. Featured are a section of the original F.W. Woolworth lunch counter in Greensboro, N.C., where in 1960 four African-American college students launched the sit-in movement; and a bronze casting of the Birmingham, Ala., jail cell door behind which  King penned his famous “Letter From Birmingham Jail” in 1963. Download a gallery exploration guide.
  • “1968: Civil Rights at 50” is part of a changing exhibit exploring the tumultuous events that shaped the civil rights movement in 1968, when movement leader the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated, unleashing anger and anguish across the country. The exhibit runs Jan. 12, 2018, to Jan. 2, 2019.
  • View an original Newseum-produced film, “Justice for All,” about the protests by track and field medal winners John Carlos and Tommie Smith at the 1968 Olympics that resonates with today’s NFL protests.

You can find additional information on all of our classes here and on how to schedule a field trip. If you have questions, please email the Newseum Education Department or call 202/292-6650.


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