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American Studies: Civil Rights Movements Research

Civil Rights Movements 1960s and ‘70s: Mini Research and Presentation Project

Prior context
So far this year we have taken a quick look at the long history of voting suppression and the fight for Black people’s voting rights (which we learned in the run up to the elections). We have also looked at the “long civil rights movement,” which we argued started in 1619 and continues today. Along the way we close read and analyzed texts by Sojourner Truth, Ida B. Wells, Douglass, Washington, DuBois, Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and the Combahee River Collective (which are also all part of our Beloved unit).  Now we’d like to take a peek at other aspects of the civil rights movement as well as some (not all) of other liberation movements of the 1960s and ‘70s. We will return in more depth to these movements after Winter Break. 


  • Collaborate in a small group on research some important aspects of a civil rights movement during the 1960s and ‘70s
  • Use close reading and analysis skills to identify salient information from a wide range of sources 
  • Identify 2-3 follow-up questions generated by your research 
  • Synthesize most salient research findings and follow-up questions into a brief and informative presentation
  • Present research findings and follow up questions to the whole class
  • Answer questions from classmates (as possible)

Civil Rights Movements

  • African American
  • Asian American
  • Disabilities
  • Women
  • Latinx
  • Native American
  • Anti-Vietnam War / hippies

Guiding questions

  • What were the main objectives of your civil rights movement and why? 
  • What tools & strategies did your movement use and why?
  • What were some important events for the movement during the ‘60s and ‘70s? 
  • Who were some of the important leaders of the movement? 
  • To what extent was your movement successful in reaching its goals and why? 
  • What new questions does your research raise about the movement?


  • (5 mins) Assign roles in your group: timekeeper, scribe, facilitator, presentation designer. Go to the libguide for your movement. Divide up the sources between you (think about length of text and your individual reading speeds). 
  • (20 mins) Read (or watch) and annotate the sources. 
  • (15 mins) Come back together in your group and share research notes
  • (15 mins) Decide on content for 3-5 slides for your presentation and design the slides
  • (10 mins) Practice presenting the slides; make changes to slides as necessary. 
  • Present the slides

Reflection questions

  • What was interesting/ enjoyable? 
  • What was difficult/ challenging?
  • What would you do differently if you had the opportunity to do this project again?