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menuAmerican Social History Project  ·    Center for Media and Learning

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John Lewis Tells America to "Wake Up"

John Lewis, the 23-year-old chairman of the Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) drafted the speech excerpted below for the 1963 March on Washington. When copies of the speech were circulated in advance, march organizers, as well as [...]

I Have a Dream (Excerpt)

Martin Luther King, Jr.'s famous "I Have a Dream" speech was delivered on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial at the conclusion of the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom on August 28, 1963. Delivered in the rhetorical tradition of the [...]

An Abolitionist Speaks Forcefully for Women's Rights

Women and African Americans were demanding the rights of citizenship in the 1850s. At an 1851 women's rights convention in Akron, Ohio Sojourner Truth rose and asked the president, "May I say a few words?" She then conveyed to the audience a [...]

Item Type: Speech
Timeline of Events Surrounding the 1968 Memphis Sanitation Workers' Strike

This timeline tracks the series of events surrounding the Memphis sanitation workers' strike that began in February, 1968, including the "I've Been to the Mountaintop" speech by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and his assassination the following day.

Item Type: Timeline
Police Photograph Black Voters in Mississippi

This photograph was published in a report chronicling the intimidation and violence towards African-American voting activists. As the original photo caption notes, police documented voters as they entered courthouses so that the "evidence" could [...]

Tags: SNCC, Voting
Item Type: Photograph
Newly Elected L.B. Paige Won't Turn Back

The cooperative efforts of local grassroots activists and Freedom Summer volunteers yielded the election of three African American officials, including L.B. Paige, in Mississippi's Benton County for the first time since Reconstruction. The news was [...]

Tags: Voting
Teachers Lay Out a "Freedom Day" Curriculum

Freedom Day I, October 22, 1963, was one of several city-wide boycotts organized by the Coordinating Council of City Organizations to protest Chicago's segregated schools. Participating students instead attended one-day "freedom schools" organized [...]

Map of Chicago's "Double Shift Schools," 1961

Chicago's School Board insisted that its overcrowded schools were not segregated and that there was no pattern of discrimination against black students. Activists in the 1950s and 1960s produced numerous reports that proved otherwise, documenting [...]

Item Type: Map
A Southern Activist Warns Black Chicagoans about the Daley Machine

The Democratic Party political machine notoriously ruled Chicago, distributing jobs and city services in exchange for political support. James Bevel, the director of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference's direct action campaigns, was a [...]

A Female Civil Rights Organizer Condemns "Jane Crow"

Pauli Murray entered law school in 1941 with the "single-minded intention of destroying Jim Crow." Murray and her peers, though on the frontlines of civil rights demonstrations and behind the scenes of many organizational meetings since the 1940s, [...]

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