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No Action Unnoticed: Timeline of The Civil Rights Movement Webquest

Created by:
Brian Cooke
Jeff Morris, Eric Rybka, Kevin Throckmorton, Galloway Township

Civil Rights

Grade Level:
6 to 8


The Civil Rights movement changed the face of the United States of America, as events both well-known and obscure transformed and charted the country's politics, social development and race relations for the twenty-first century. Each of these events in their own way contributed to the movement's success. In this lesson, pairs of students choose a specific event which they research and evaluate using a teacher-created Webquest. Students then create a digital timeline entry that are merged to form an interactive class timeline that displays the scope and sequence of this historic period.

Historical Context

The Civil Rights movement, which many historians date to Brown v. the Board of Education, the 1954 Supreme Court declaring school segregation unconstitutional, fought against racial discrimination, especially--though not exclusively--against African Americans, and sought to restore suffrage in Southern states. By 1966, the emergence of the Black Power Movement, which lasted until roughly 1975, enlarged the aims of the Civil Rights movement to include racial dignity, economic and political self-sufficiency, and freedom from oppression.

From 1954 to 1968, several acts of nonviolent protest and civil disobedience produced crisis situations between activists and government authorities. Federal, state, and local governments, businesses, and communities used a variety of strategies to respond to such moments of tension intended to highlight the inequities many minority groups faced. Some responses brought about social and legal changes--others were more confrontational.

Popular forms of protest and civil disobedience included boycotts, such as the successful Montgomery Bus Boycott (1955-1956) in Alabama, "sit-ins," such as the influential Greensboro sit-in (1960) in North Carolina, marches, such as the Selma to Montgomery marches (1965) in Alabama, and a wide range of other nonviolent activities. Lesser known events include the Sixteenth Street Baptist Church Bombing and the Children's Crusade both in Birmingham, Alabama (1963).

civil rights, civil disobedience, the legislative process, justice, democracy

Goals and Objectives:

Following this activity, students will be able to:

1. Research and discuss significant historical figures and events of the Civil Rights movement.

2. Sequence these significant events into an interactive, multimedia timeline.

3. Describe how racial and cultural differences impacted the United States during the 1950s and 1960s.


6.1 U.S. History: America in the World: All students will acquire the knowledge and skills to think analytically about how past and present interactions of people, cultures, and the environment shape the American heritage. Such knowledge and skills enable students to make informed decisions that reflect fundamental rights and core democratic values as productive citizens in local, national, and global communities.

6.1.12.A.13.b Analyze the effectiveness of national legislation, policies, and Supreme Court decisions (i.e., the Civil Rights Act, the Voting Rights Act, the Equal Rights Amendment, Title VII, Title IX, Affirmative Action, Brown v. Board of Education, and Roe v. Wade) in promoting civil liberties and equal opportunities.6.1.12.C.13.a Explain how individuals and organizations used economic measures (e.g., the Montgomery Bus Boycott, sit downs, etc.) as weapons in the struggle for civil and human rights.

6.1.12.D.13.a Determine the impetus for the Civil Rights Movement, and explain why national governmental actions were needed to ensure civil rights for African Americans.

Equipment, materials and other technology needed:

Computers with Internet access

Civil Rights Movement Webquest

List of topics

Multi-Media/Online Timeline Creator(for example: PowerPoint, Photostory, Dipity Timeline Creator)

Details of Activity

PART I: Choose a Topic (10 min.)

Divide students into pairs and assign each an event. Direct the class to the teacher-created Webquest and introduce them to the program's structure (located online at http://sites.google.com/site/civilrightsmovementwebquest/home; a hotlink to this activity also appears below). Students will then progress through the steps specified in the Webquest to complete their project.

PART II: Complete Webquest (30-40 min.)

Encourage students to begin by reading the Webquest's brief introduction to the Civil Rights movement, then proceed to the detailed instructions about how to complete the assignment (provided under "Task" and "Process").

These sections not only outline what categories of information need to be collected about each Civil Rights event, but also offer a series of questions intended to guide students' research process.

Encourage them to also use the Webquest "Resources" section, which provides links to a variety of different primary and secondary sources divided by subject matter.

After completing their research, students should enter their information into the class timeline. The following is required: Title, date/year, a paragraph description of the event, picture and/or video, and location/map.

Teachers can use a variety of formats to create this timeline. Students might input their information as powerpoint slides, or--if a computer lab is available--use a web-based timeline software such as Dipity Timeline Creator (available online at http://www.dipity.com).

PART III: Presentations (one class period)

Use the following class period to allow each group to share their findings.

Practice and Reinforcement

After viewing the entire class-created timeline, students select three events that they feel were the most significant. Students will be asked to name the event and write a paragraph explaining why each one is the most important to the Civil Rights movement.

See Webquest "Resources" section.

Web Links:
Civil Rights Movement Timeline Webquest

Sample timeline entry using Dipity online software

For more information about the Teaching American History Program click here