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Freedom Rides

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Experience the Freedom Rides in your classroom! Learn the story behind a courageous band of civil rights activists called Freedom Riders who in 1961 challenged segregation in the American South.

  • Explore an interactive map showing routes, key locations, and events.
  • Learn more about the people involved in the Freedom Rider movement through biographies, photos, and film clips.
  • Explore the issues that fueled the Freedom Rider movement and learn how the Rides changed America.

 

At the Created Equal website, you can view the entire film, FREEDOM RIDERS, in streaming video as well as three other films about America's long civil rights struggle. For each of these films there are also shorter clips, historical background, biographies, lesson plans, including some from EDSITEment, and primary sources.

 

Visit the History Explorers group and learn what other history enthusiasts are discussing.

 

 

  • Lessons
  • Resources
  • Video

Lessons

Martin Luther King, Jr. and Me: Identifying with a Hero
ReadWriteThink | Lesson | K-2
This lesson provides ideas for celebrating Martin Luther King, Jr. Day by encouraging students to explore the connections between Dr. King and themselves through journaling and inquiry-based research.

Picturing Freedom: Selma-to-Montgomery March, 1965
EDSITEment | Lesson | 6-8
In this lesson, students learn about the Selma-to-Montgomery voting rights march by analyzing photojournalist James Karales's iconic photograph of the march, reading background material on it, and illustrate a postcard describing this civil rights event from a marcher's viewpoint.

Exploring the Power of Martin Luther King, Jr.’s Words through Diamante Poetry
ReadWriteThink | Lesson | 9-12
Students explore the ways that powerful and passionate words communicate the concepts of freedom, justice, discrimination, and the American Dream in Martin Luther King, Jr.’s "I Have a Dream" speech.

JFK, LBJ, and the Fight for Equal Opportunity in the 1960s
EDSITEment | Lesson | 9-12
By reading and listening to Kennedy's and Johnson's statements, students will examine their intentions for mounting the fight for equal opportunities for all Americans. Students will use online primary source documents to examine and analyze the Americans' struggles over social and economic rights in these tumultuous years.

JFK, Freedom Riders and the Civil Rights Movement
EDSITEment | Lesson | 9-12
Most lessons on the 1960s Civil Rights Movement focus on key national leaders-Martin Luther King Jr., Malcolm X and President John F. Kennedy. This lesson is no exception; however, it will also look at less well-known members of the civil rights struggle, those whose courageous actions triggered a federal response. This lesson will help students learn more about these members of the grassroots civil rights struggle through the use of primary documents, audio sources, and photographs.

National Youth Summit: The Freedom Rides
Smithsonian's History Explorer | Lesson | 9 -12
In this webcast, students will hear from Freedom Rides veterans and view clips from the PBS American Experience documentary Freedom Riders. Includes teachers guide.

That's Not Fair! Examining Civil Liberties With the U.S. Supreme Court
ReadWriteThink | Lesson | 9-12
Students have the right to have fun in this lesson in which they create a PowerPoint presentation about civil rights and the Supreme Court.

The Greensboro Lunch Counter
Smithsonian's History Explorer | Lesson Plan | 9-12
This resource includes a short video on segregation of public accommodations with a focus on lunch counters and a virtual exhibit activity in which students curate their own online exhibition organized around the Greensboro lunch counter.

Examining the Legacy of the American Civil Rights Era
ReadWriteThink | Lesson | 11-12
As part of their study of Richard Wright’s Black Boy, students research and reflect on the current black-white racial divide in America. By examining the work of literature in the context of contemporary events, students will deepen their understanding of the work and of what it means to be an American today.

Resources

Martin Luther King, Jr. Day Teaching Resources
Science NetLinks | Resource Collection | K-12
Collection of social and behavioral sciences resources created to highlight Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and the Civil Rights Movement.

Cover of Negro Motorist Green-Book
Smithsonian's History Explorer | Artifact | 9-12
This 1940 guidebook outlined hotels, restaurants, and other establishments open to African American travelers in the Jim Crow era.

Freedom Riders Stopped in Anniston, Alabama
Smithsonian's History Explorer | Artifact | 9-12
This page includes images and historical background on the 1961 Freedom Rides.

Video

Join the Student Sit-Ins Classroom Videos
Smithsonian's History Explorer | Video | 5-12
In this series of five short videos, students can watch a museum theater presentation in which a fictional composite character from 1960 is conducting a training session for people interested in joining a student sit-in to protest racial segregation.  This site includes a teacher guide and related resources.

Youth Town Hall with the Greensboro Civil Rights Pioneers: Commemorating the 50th Anniversary of the Woolworth Lunch Counter Sit-In
Smithsonian's History Explorer | Video | 8-12
During this 98-minute archived webcast, hear three members of the Greensboro Four reflect on their experiences as nonviolent protesters during the civil rights movement.

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