Boycott and Direct Action

  • Audrey Hendricks

    In 1963, at the age of nine, Audrey Hendricks left school and joined more than 2,000 students in a Birmingham demonstration that came to beknown as the Children's Crusade. In this interview, Hendricks recalls her participation and arrest.

    Grades: 3-12
  • Decision in the Streets

    In the early 1960s, students from the University of California, Berkeley, and other civil rights activists formed the Ad Hoc Committee to End Racial Discrimination and took to the streets of San Francisco to protest racial inequality and unfair hiring practices. This video segment recalls their demonstrations of 1963-64.

    Grades: 9-12
  • 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
  • Eleventh Commandment Flyer

    Organizers of a 1962 selective buying campaign created and posted flyers with the slogan "The Eleventh Commandment: Thou Shalt Stay Out of Downtown Birmingham." This flyer represents collaboration among students at Miles College, Daniel Payne College, and the Booker T. Washington Business College. The student-led campaign encouraged African Americans to boycott stores and restaurants that discriminated against them.

    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
  • Hyde County School Boycott

    Ten years after the Supreme Court ruled that segregated schools were unconstitutional, schools in Hyde County, North Carolina, remained segregated. When the county was forced to desegregate the schools in 1968, the all-white school board decided to close the historically black schools. A yearlong protest revolutionized race relations in the small, rural town, and changed the face of education for its students.
    Grades: 3-12
  • Freedom Riders: The Inspiration

    In this video segment from the American Experience: "Freedom Riders" Web site, watch interviews and newsreel footage and see archival photos to learn how Mahatma Gandhi, the leader in the struggle for an independent India, inspired and influenced those engaged in the struggle to end racial discrimination in the United States. Gandhi's use of nonviolence had allowed the people of India to win independence from Great Britain in 1947. While Gandhi declined an invitation from American civil rights leaders to become directly involved in the U.S. struggle for equal rights, his encouragement persuaded them that the tactic of nonviolence also held great potential in a struggle for the rights of a minority. This resource is part of the American Experience: Freedom Riders collection

    Grades: 6-12
  • James Farmer and the Freedom Rides

    This interview with civil rights leader James Farmer recalls the Freedom Rides of 1961, when an interracial group rode two buses through the South to test enforcement of recent Supreme Court rulings that banned segregated seating on interstate buses and trains. More than 300 Freedom Riders were arrested and jailed before the Interstate Commerce Commission enforced the rulings.

    Grades: 6-12
  • Jim Zwerg

    In May of 1961, an interracial group known as the Freedom Riders rode two buses through the South to protest interstate bus segregation. On May 20, one bus was greeted in Montgomery, Alabama by a violent mob. This transcript documents an interview with Jim Zwerg, a young, white Freedom Rider, who was badly beaten as he got off the bus.

    Grades: 6-12
  • Joe Dickson

    In this interview, Joe Dickson recalls his days as a student at Miles College in the late 1950s and early 1960s. He describes the relationship between student activists and two successive college presidents. The first, Dr. William Augustus Bell, discouraged student involvement in the early years of the Civil Rights Movement. He feared student activism would trigger white resistance and adversely affect fundraising. The second, Dr. Lucius Pitts, supported student activism and participated in negotiations between white businessmen and black students.

    Grades: 6-12
  • Law Student Barack Obama, 1991

    This archival news footage from 1991 shows scenes from a rally held at Harvard Law School at which Barack Obama, a law student at the time and president of the Harvard Law Review, introduces Professor Derrick Bell. Some of the banners in the background read “Harvard Law School on Strike for Diversity,” “Diversity Now,” and “No More Excuses.” In his speech, Professor Bell notes the significance of his appointment two decades earlier as the first tenured African American professor, before chiding the school for its overall “past racist hiring record.”

    This video is primary source footage and has not been extensively edited.

    Grades: 6-12
  • Lola Hendricks

    The leadership of the Civil Rights Movement was largely defined by major figures like Martin Luther King Jr., but behind the scenes were people like Lola Hendricks who helped organize the community and filed lawsuits to end discrimination and segregation. In this interview, Hendricks describes her role in the Civil Rights movement.

    Grades: 6-12
  • Miriam McClendon

    Miriam McClendon was 14 years old when she became involved in the Civil Rights Movement in Birmingham, Alabama. In this video segment, McClendon describes how she left school to participate in the Children's Crusade of 1963 and was then arrested and jailed for several days.

    Grades: 3-12
  • Rev. Frank Dukes: Selective Buying Campaign

    In 1962, Miles College student Frank Dukes helped organize andparticipated in a selective buying campaign in Birmingham, Alabama. Byboycotting downtown businesses that discriminated against them, AfricanAmericans used buying power as political leverage in the struggle forequality. In this interview, Dukes describes his role in the grassrootseffort that shook Birmingham's economy.

    Grades: 6-12
  • Rosa Parks

    This interview with civil rights activist Rosa Parks describes her role in the Montgomery Bus Boycott. On December 1, 1955, Parks refused to give up her seat to a white man on a bus in Montgomery, Alabama. Her refusal sparked a massive bus boycott that lasted 381 days, ending on December 21, 1956, after the United States Supreme Court ruled that racial segregation on city buses was unconstitutional.

    Grades: 3-12
  • Strategies for an Equal Education: Lesson Plan | Percy Julian

    Examine inequality in education for African Americans in the 20th century, review the Fourteenth Amendment, and identify and examine strategies used to overcome discrimination—from the NOVA program Percy Julian: Forgotten Genius.

    Grades: 6-13+