Syracuse University

Educational Materials


These materials were compiled by the Cold Case Justice Initiative, with assistance from librarians Greg Ewing, Syracuse University College of Law Barclay Law Library; Angela A. Williams, Syracuse University Martin Luther King, Jr. Library in the Department of African American Studies; and Bonnie Ryan, Syracuse University Bird Library, as well as CCJI interns Callie Moncus and Susan Schneider.

The resources listed below include readings, films, lesson plans and websites for a range of ages, grade levels, subject matters, and for educators in primary and secondary education, higher education, and the public at large. 

This is not an exhaustive list by any means and we hope visitors to this link will make suggestions for additional resources and share approaches and experiences with the materials they use to enhance learning, understanding and appreciation for the civil rights era and movement.  Please contact CCJI Administrative Assistant Colleen Denick at to suggest additional materials for this site. 

We hope you will find these resources helpful and informative and we look forward to hearing from you.


Birmingham Civil Rights Institute, Making Connections: A Curriculum Guide for Grades K-12



Celebrate African American Heritage and Culture with Penguin Young Readers Group

Young readers are introduced to African American literature and are encouraged to share favorite books and stories through student-written book reviews, in-school newsletters and postings on school websites, and other activities. Suggested readings for Ages 3-8, Ages 8-12, Ages 10-up, and Ages 12-up.  Includes teaching suggestions. 

Rosa Parks Changed the Rules (K-2)

Students learn the story of Rosa Parks and the Montgomery, Alabama bus boycott that began on December 1, 1955.  Suitable for Arts & Humanities – Language Arts, Literature, and Visual Arts; Social Studies – Civics, Economics, and History.  Lesson plan provided.

This is Rosa Parks (K-2)

Students learn about unfair laws in the United States prior to the civil rights movement as shown through the story of Rosa Parks.  Students explore the idea that the actions of one person can change the life of many. Suitable for Language Arts, Library/Technology, Philanthropy and Social Studies.  Lesson plan provided.

MLK Mini-Unit

Created by April Larremore,

Contains suggested reading list, art projects, and lesson plans for young students.

The Story of Ruby Bridges

Introduces students to the story of Ruby Bridges, who was the first six-year-old African American girl who attended an all-White elementary school in the American South. Tells the story of her courage in the face of racial hostility when she attended a previously segregated school in New Orleans, Louisiana, in 1960, and had to be escorted to school by federal marshals. Suitable for History, Language Arts, Math, Social Studies, and Technology. Lesson plans provided.    


Martin Luther King, Jr. and Me: Identifying with a Hero

Dr. King’s Dream

Liberty and Justice for All


Yale-New Haven Teachers Institute, An Analysis of Jim Crow Laws and their Effects on Race Relations


American Civilization/Geography Overview

The Civil Rights Movement, Kevin Supples

Civil Rights: All Men (And Women!) Are Created Equal, Coleen Bever, Lewis Palmer Charter Academy, Monument, Co and Linda Zellner, Core Knowledge Charter School, Parker, CO


Taking a Stand

TLC Online Curriculum: US History, Anti-Bias Education

Breaking Racial Barriers

Jim Crow

The Martin Luther King, Jr. Papers Project

Southern Poverty Law Center: Teaching Tolerance

Children of the Civil Rights Movement, Social Studies Unit, Third Grade

Joanna Brautigam


Tallahassee Bus Boycott of 1956-57: Information for Teachers, Florida Memory

Civil Rights Movement Unit: Lesson 1: Riding the Bus – Taking a Stand

Civil Rights Movement Unit: Lesson 3: Birmingham 1963

Civil Rights Movement Unit: Lesson 4: Marching for Justice – Selma to Montgomery


Civil Rights Movement Unit: Lesson 5: Voting Rights

John Lewis is the Lead: A Story of the Civil Rights Movement, Jim Haskins and Kathleen Benson, illustrated by Benny Andrews (Lee and Low Books,



Oh Freedom Lesson Plan

Literature of the Civil Rights Movement, Elizabeth Annette Taylor, Tellico Plains Jr. High School

The Civil Rights Movement, An NTEQ Instructional Unit, Nan Josephson, Ph.D., The Africa Teach Foundation

The Freedom Riders and the Popular Music of the Civil Rights Movement

Atlanta: 5th Grade Lesson Plan: Desegregation of Schools


The following curriculum resources are suitable for use for older students in secondary schools.  They introduce students to the civil rights era and its importance to US and world history, in addition to other specific subject areas, including geography, literature, art and culture, economics, government and politics, among others.  Through these materials and lessons, students examine United States history through analysis of the development of American culture, its diversity and multicultural context, and the ways people are unified by many values, practices, and traditions.

Current Curricula:

National Civil Rights Museum Curriculum Guide, Barbara Andrews, Director of education and Interpretation.  National Civil Rights Museum at the Lorraine Motel, 2011.     

Teaching the Movement: The State Standards We Deserve, Maureen Costello, Teaching Tolerance Director. Southern Poverty Law Center: Teaching Tolerance, March 2012.

Facing History and Ourselves/Boston Public Schools Civil Rights Curriculum Collaborative, Facing History and Ourselves Foundation, Inc.  2008.

Making Connections: A Curriculum Guide For Grades K-12, Lawrence J. Pijeaux, Jr., Ed.D., Executive Director.  Birmingham Civil Rights Institute, 2000.

We Shall Not Be Moved: The Women of the Civil Rights Movement, K. Wise Whitehead and Yvonne Waller. National Leadership Visionary Project.

Common Core State Standards and English Language Arts (CCSS ELA) Lessons and Supplements:

Civil Rights Exemplar for argumentative writing under CCSS :

Lesson emphasizing students’ reading, writing, and speaking be grounded in textual evidence: Malcolm X & MLK Jr:

Connecting to Current Events:

Not in Our Town: Class Actions & Not in Our Town: Light in the Darkness:

Class Actions features three stories of students and their communities standing together to stop hate and bullying. University of Mississippi students peacefully confront old divisions and the Ku Klux Klan by turning their backs on hate; hundreds gather on the Indiana University campus to light menorah candles after anti-Semitic attacks on campus; and a massive circle of southern California high school students break the silence about bullying at school with a loud and united chant, "Not In Our Town."

Light in the Darkness is a one-hour documentary about a town coming together to take action after anti-immigrant violence devastates the community. In 2008, a series of attacks against Latino residents of Patchogue, New York culminate with the murder of Marcelo Lucero, an Ecuadorian immigrant who had lived in the Long Island village for 13 years.

Emmett Till Murder

Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA)


Videos Available Online:

Eyes On The Prize:

If showing publicly, please buy the video at PBS.  The study guide is also available on the DVD:

(PBS offers several invaluable resources on the main page cited above, including the video's study guide, primary sources, and still images.  They also provide many grade appropriate activities and lessons on their website under the "For Teachers" tab.)

Freedom Riders:

Full video available, free, courtesy of PBS:

(This website also offers tremendous supplemental activities and resources to the teacher and student.)

NPR's Michel Martin Speaks with Freedom Riders at the National Women's Law Center 2011 Annual Dinner:

Brown v. Board of Education:

Robert Lee Carter :

Constance Baker Motley:

Benjamin Hooks:

Lerone Bennett, Jr:

March on Washington:

Arrested at a Demonstration:

John Hope Franklin:

Racism in my Childhood:

Last Public Interview:

Dorothy Height:

Early Activism in Harlem:

My Experience In The Civil Rights Movement:

Civil Rights Movement Today:

B.B. King:

Crossover Stigma Attached to Black Artists:

Life on the Road During Segregation:

Coretta Scott King:

Preparing to Start a Movement/The Montgomery Bus Boycott:

Advice to Young African Americans:

Definition of Leadership:

Rev. Joseph Lowery:

The Importance of the Civil Rights Movement:

James Meredith:

1966 March Against Fear:

Ole' Miss - Applying:

Ole' Miss - Medgar Evers Help:

Ole' Miss - Working the Kennedys:

Ole' Miss - Manipulation the Media:

The Future of Race Relations:

Robert Moses:

Freedom Rides:

Freedom Summer - Part 1:

Freedom Summer - Part 2:

Alvin Poussaint:

Beginning of the Black Power Movement:

Amelia Boynton Robinson:

Marching in Selma:

Racial Violence:

Brief Bio:

LBJ Speech:

Rev. Fred Shuttlesworth:

Stopping at Nothing for Equal Rights:

America's Future:

Fighting Segregation from the Pulpit:

My Relationship with Martin Luther King, Jr.:

My Greatest Achievement:

Rev. C.T. Vivian:

Freedom Rides:

Racism in School:

Starting Upward Bound:

Continuing After the Death of Martin Luther King, Jr.:

Test of Nonviolence in Prison:

Rev. Wyatt Walker:

Meeting Dr. King for the First Time:

Service is Key:

Different Styles of the Civil Rights Movement: