Analyzing the Civil Rights Movement Through Primary Sources

Contributor: Danielle Childers. Lesson ID: 10525

What would it be like if the Civil Rights movement never happened? Watch videos, read documents, and listen to Dr King's "I Have a Dream" speech to understand the changes during this time!


People and Their Environment, United States

learning style
Auditory, Visual
personality style
Lion, Otter
Grade Level
Intermediate (3-5)
Lesson Type
Quick Query

Lesson Plan - Get It!

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The images below were taken in the United States between 1938 and 1943.

  • What do the signs say?
  • Do you think they are fair?
  • Do you think there are currently signs like this hung up in the United States?

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Throughout the United States' history, African Americans and other races were discriminated against, meaning they were not given the same rights and respect as others.

As you can see by the first sign above, only white people were allowed to use that Oklahoma City store. This was a widespread practice only a few decades ago!

As shown in the other images above, Blacks had to use separate water fountains, waiting rooms, and entrances. They were also required to use separate restrooms and even attended different schools because of the color of their skin.

In this lesson, learn more about the people and events that helped American minorities receive the same treatment as their fellow Americans through an event in history called the Civil Rights Movement.

To learn about history, there are two sources of information historians use to describe a period. These two types of sources are called primary and secondary sources.

Primary sources are first-hand accounts of people who were living during the event or period. They give a specific viewpoint.

A secondary source is made after the event and usually after that period. It gives more of an overview of the event.

Both sources have their pros and cons, but both are valuable. (You can learn more with our lesson found under Additional Resources in the right-hand sidebar.)

There are three tools historians use to analyze sources. They first observe the resource, then interpret or think about the observations, and then they ask more questions.

You will use these three tools while looking at sources about the time of the Civil Rights Movement.

  • What do you know about the Civil Rights Movement?

Explore some secondary sources that provide additional information about the Civil Rights Movement.

Read about the Civil Rights Movement and watch the video below.

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Say out loud three things you learned from these secondary sources.

Then, continue to the Got It? section to learn to analyze primary sources.

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