Close Menu

What Don’t You Know About Civil Rights?

Show details +

Perhaps it's the role students played. Or that Martin Luther King Jr.'s famous letter penned from a Birmingham jail was in response to an ad by white ministers. This NewseumED article, originally published in a National Council for the Social Studies' Bulletin, shows educators how they can reframe the civil rights movement using the C3 Framework and the lens of the First Amendment.

This Lesson is under copyright protection.

You can access it with a free NewseumED account.

Have an account? Sign in

C3 CoverOBJECTIVE: Students learn to formulate and investigate their own questions about the civil rights movement.

GRADE LEVEL: Middle school

TIME: Three class periods

MATERIALS: Resources cited in the article (download), and the EDCollection Making a Change: The First Amendment and the Civil Rights Movement. The EDCollection includes a searchable timeline featuring over 200 historical front pages, videos and photographs and a media map comparing newspapers’ front page coverage of civil rights milestones across the country. (To access some of these resources, you must be signed into NewseumED; registration is free.)

INTRO: Ask your students what they know about the civil rights movement and they’ll probably fire back a volley of marquee names, milestone events and bumper-sticker quotes: “I Have a Dream!” “Martin Luther King Jr.!” “The March on Washington!” “Rosa Parks!” Ask your students what they don’t know about the civil rights movement, and you’ll probably get an awkward silence punctuated by the odd “Huh?” or “What?”

How can you help your students move beyond the checklist of civil rights facts and figures toward a deeper understanding of the factors that shaped the civil rights movement and an appreciation for its continuing impact in their own communities and around the world? How can you help them step away from their instinct for easy answers to instead begin formulating and investigating their own questions?

Download the pdf to read the full article.


Placing images behind a login wall allows us to negotiate lower copyright costs and ensures that we keep all NewseumED resources free for the education community.

Sign in for full access.

Don’t have premium access? It’s free. All you have to do is register.


Overview PDF DOC
Worksheets PDF DOC
Extensions PDF DOC
Full Packet PDF DOC

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

Sign in for full access to this Lesson.

Don’t have an account?

Our lessons contain copyrighted material, so registration is required. Signing up is simple and free.

Find more lessons

We’ve narrowed down your choices based on this lesson. To see more options, browse all lessons.


Other lessons like this one

EDTools like this one

EDClasses & Training related to this lesson

  • Newseum Learning Center

    Fighting Fake News — Educators Workshop

    Arm your students with the skills they need to strike a balance between cynic and sucker as they navigate a media landscape where real and fake sometimes look all too similar.

    This class is for:

    • Educators
  • 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

EDClasses & Training

Request a class or workshop to get personalized instruction from Newseum Education staff.


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


Respond to breaking news and find new ways to teach standard topics with tips from NewseumED staff.

  • The primary and secondary resources are totally awesome!”

    Hassan Mims Social Studies, Grades 9-12
  • The Newseum is a unique experience. It connects real world events to the heart of each individual.”

    Jane Peterson English, Grade 8
  • All the content from NewseumED is high quality and fully accessible for my students. That makes it invaluable!”

    Shay Taylor Education Technology Specialist, Grades 9-12 and college