Leaders and Organizers


  • Bayard Rustin

    In this interview transcript, civil rights leader Bayard Rustin recalls his role in the 1947 Journey of Reconciliation, the 1963 March on Washington, and the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party (MFDP). Rustin and his support of Gandhian nonviolence had a major influence on the Reverend Martin Luther King Jr., other civil rights leaders, and the demonstrations of the Civil Rights movement.

    Grades: 9-12
  • Bayard Rustin: A Freedom Budget, Part 1

    In a speech delivered on November 17, 1967 at Harvard University, civil rights leader Bayard Rustin outlined a plan for a Freedom Budget for All Americans. In this audio excerpt, he describes how the plan responds to decades of discrimination in education and employment that limited the economic prospects of African Americans.

    Grades: 9-12
  • Bayard Rustin: A Freedom Budget, Part 2

    In a speech delivered on November 17, 1967 at Harvard University, civil rights leader Bayard Rustin outlined the "Freedom Budget for All Americans." In this audio recording, Rustin proposes an increase in federal spending for education, job training, and health care, and a guaranteed income plan. The Freedom Budget was designed to end poverty in America by 1975.

    Grades: 9-12
  • Burke Marshall

    As an assistant attorney general in the Civil Rights Division of the Department of Justice, Burke Marshall played a key role in the federal government's efforts to desegregate the South. Representing the presidential administrations of John F. Kennedy and Lyndon B. Johnson, Marshall mediated conflicts between civil rights protesters and southern white officials. In this interview, Marshall recalls the 1961 Freedom Rides and the 1962 desegregation of the University of Mississippi.

    Grades: 9-12
  • Colonel Stone Johnson

    During the Civil Rights Movement, black civil rights activists often risked their lives to promote racial equality. Colonel Stone Johnson, shown in this interview, was among those who offered protection and tried to prevent violence against African Americans, which ranged from beatings to bombings.

    Grades: 6-12
  • A Country Preacher: Rev. De Laine

    Clarendon County, South Carolina Reverend Joseph De Laine encouraged local families to join the class action lawsuit Briggs v. Elliot, the first to challenge public school segregation. In this video segment, Joseph De Laine, Jr. and Ophelia De Laine Gona remember their father's role in the controversial school desegregation lawsuit.

    Grades: 3-12
  • Diane Nash and the Sit-Ins

    In this interview, civil-rights leader Diane Nash recalls her role in the 1960 Nashville sit-ins, the 1961 Freedom Rides, and the 1965 voting rights campaign in Selma, Alabama. As one of the founders of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC), Nash mobilized her fellow college students to confront segregation and discrimination with nonviolent direct action. This resource is part of the Civil Rights collection.

    Grades: 6-12
  • Eileen Kelley Walbert

    In the 1960s, Birmingham, Alabama's strict segregation laws, andviolence against blacks, inspired whites like Eileen Walbert, shown inthis interview, to form the Concerned White Citizens of Alabama. Walbertand other sympathetic whites participated in demonstrations for racialequality. Like many civil rights activists, they too suffered reprisals.

    Grades: 6-12
  • Excerpts from the March on Washington, Part 1

    The Reverend Martin Luther King Jr.'s "I Have a Dream" speech dominates popular history of the August 1963 March on Washington, but the day was full of speakers and performers. This audio compilation captures the voices of A. Philip Randolph, Ralph Abernathy, Roy Wilkins, Walter Reuther, Ralph Bunche, and Daisy Bates.

    Grades: 6-12
  • Excerpts from the March on Washington, Part 2

    At the 1963 March on Washington, civil rights leaders offered a "Tribute to Women," which recognized the leadership roles of women in the Civil Rights Movement, as well as the widows of civil rights leaders who were murdered for their activism. This recording pays tribute to Rosa Parks, Daisy Bates, Diane Nash, Mrs. Herbert Lee, Mrs. Medgar Evers, and Gloria Richardson.

    Grades: 6-12
  • Excerpts from the March on Washington, Part 3

    John Lewis, heard here in this live recording from the 1963 March on Washington, was a leader of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) who helped trigger a new activism among college students. Of all the March on Washington speeches, Lewis's was considered the most controversial for its criticism of the government.

    Grades: 6-12
  • Freedom Riders: The Exchange Student

    In this video segment from the American Experience: "Freedom Riders" Web site, watch newsreel footage and interviews and see archival photos to gain insight into the white college students who became active in the struggle for African Americans' civil rights. Jim Zwerg tells how he became one of the Freedom Riders, a decision that led to his estrangement from his parents and a beating at the hands of an Alabama mob. This resource is part of the American Experience: Freedom Riders collection.

    This video includes language that is considered offensive. However, it provides authentic documentation of the bigotry of the era.

    Grades: 6-12
  • Freedom Riders: Freedom Riders Challenge Segregation

    In this video segment adapted from American Experience: "Freedom Riders," watch newsreel footage, archival photos, and interviews to explore how Freedom Riders made efforts to end the segregation of African Americans in the Southern United States. Even after the U.S. Supreme Court had ruled that the segregation of black and white riders on interstate buses was unconstitutional, Southern states continued to enforce local segregation laws. In response, members of both races decided to force the issue and challenge illegal segregation by riding together in buses headed to the South. This resource is part of the American Experience: "Freedom Riders" collection. 

    Grades: 6-12
  • Freedom Riders: Freedom Riders Create Change

    In this video segment adapted from American Experience: "Freedom Riders," view newsreel footage, archival photos, and interviews to explore how the Freedom Rides of 1961 brought about the end of racial segregation in interstate transportation. The Freedom Riders, aware that their nonviolent protest would elicit violence from some Southerners attempting to enforce local segregation laws, were determined to continue their protest even in the face of possible arrest. A series of events involving the U.S. attorney general, a U.S. senator, the governor of Mississippi, and a federal agency put an end to discriminatory practices in public transportation. This initial, unambiguous victory for the Civil Rights Movement paved the way for further progress. This resource is part of the American Experience: Freedom Riders Collection.

    Grades: 6-12
  • Freedom Riders: Fresh Troops

    In this video segment from the American Experience: "Freedom Riders" Web site, view newsreel footage, interviews, and archival photos to explore how students in Nashville, Tennessee, prepared for civil rights protests by training in the techniques of nonviolent direct action. This training prepared them for several initial efforts focused on the Nashville community and made them ideal reinforcements when attacks by white mobs decimated the ranks of the first Freedom Riders in 1961. This resource is part of the American Experience: Freedom Riders Collection.

    Grades: 6-12
  • Freedom Riders: The Governor

    In this video segment adapted from the American Experience "Freedom Riders" Web site, watch newsreel footage and interviews and see archival photos to explore one Southern politician's opposition to ending illegal discrimination and segregation against African Americans in the early 1960s. Alabama Governor John Patterson would not honor Attorney General Robert Kennedy's request to ensure the safety of the Freedom Riders, and even refused to take a phone call from President John Kennedy while white mobs were firebombing buses and beating civil rights activists in Patterson's home state. Years later, Patterson expressed his regret for not taking the president's call and for not doing "what should have been done". This resource is part of the American Experience: Freedom Riders Collection.

    Grades: 6-12
  • Harry Briggs, Sr. and Eliza Briggs

    Harry and Eliza Briggs were among 20 African American parents in Clarendon County, South Carolina who sued the school board over unequal education. The case, Briggs v. Elliott, was eventually joined with four other lawsuits to form the landmark 1954 case Brown v. Board of Education, in which the United States Supreme Court ruled that segregated schools were unconstitutional. In this interview, the Briggs describe the importance of education, the conditions that existed in black schools, and the hardships endured by many of plaintiffs in the suit.

    Grades: 6-12
  • Brown Reactions: Black Educators

    When the United States Supreme Court declared segregated schools unconstitutional in 1954, newspaper editorials and other written commentary reflected a nation's divided response. This collection of primary source documents captures the range of opinions about the Court's ruling.

    Grades: 6-12
  • Mendez v. Westminster: Desegregating California's Schools

    In 1946, eight years before the landmark Supreme Court decision in Brown v. Board of Education, Mexican Americans in Orange County, California won a class action lawsuit to dismantle the segregated school system that existed there. In this video segment, Sylvia Mendez recalls the conditions that triggered the lawsuit and her parents' involvement in the case.

    Grades: 3-12
  • Implementing Brown

    This video segment reveals conflicting views of President Eisenhower's response to the Brown v. Board of Education ruling against segregated schools. NAACP attorney Constance Baker Motley argues that the president should have done more to enforce the ruling. Former attorney general Herbert Brownell and his deputy, William Rogers, explain the president's cautious response.

    Grades: 6-12

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