Untold Stories: Changemakers of the Civil Rights Era

iCivics presents a series of short, animated videos that examine the actions and accomplishments of civil rights activists of the 1950’s and 60’s. Barbara Johns, Constance Baker Motley, and J.D. and Ethel Shelley, these figures probably haven’t made it to your textbook, and yet their contributions have helped shape our nation in insurmountable ways. iCivics brings these untold stories to a classroom near you. 

View All Five Videos!

Videos are assignable, end with questions for generating classroom discussion, and come with a downloadable Teacher’s Guide. Visit a video’s lesson page to view or assign it and access the guide.

Changemakers Civil Rights Era

Students and the Struggle for School Integration

Before there was Brown v. Board, there was Barbara Johns, a teenager who organized a student walkout for better conditions for her segregated school. (Length: 2:04)

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The NAACP Legal Defense Fund

While people protest in the streets, the Legal Defense Fund fights for them in the courts, challenging discriminatory laws in every aspect of life. (Length: 1:56)

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Breaking Barriers: Constance Baker Motley

Meet a woman who broke all the barriers to become a champion for civil rights: Constance Baker Motley—lawyer, state senator, and federal judge. (Length: 1:52)

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Stepping Forward: The Fight for College Integration

First accepted and then rejected from the University of Alabama for being Black, Autherine Lucy and Pollie Ann Myers didn’t take no for an answer. (Length: 2:04)

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The Shelleys & the Right to Fair Housing

For decades, restrictive covenants prevented people of color from buying a home of their choice… until J.D. and Ethel Shelley challenged them! (Length: 1:55)

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Teacher’s Guide includes:

Learning Objectives &
Teaching Suggestions

Background Information &
Discussion Questions

Timeline Activity &
Additional Resources

Connect Videos to Other iCivics Lessons!

Create a complete class lesson by using a video with an existing iCivics lesson, DBQuest, or WebQuest from any of the following units. Review the Teacher’s Guide for each video for specific lesson recommendations.