*Define political will, leadership, and coalition building
*Research the 1964 Civil Rights Act and the 1965 Voting Rights Act
*Examine the role the presidency, especially of President Lyndon B. Johnson, played in pushing these two pieces of civil rights legislation forward
*Connect the 1964 and 1965 civil rights legislation to current events
It is important to situate the signing of the 1964 and 1965 civil rights legislation within the long struggle for civil rights in America, and within the broader fight for equal access and opportunity regardless of race, religion, gender, sexual orientation, or political affiliations. For the focused scope of this lesson, these interview segments collected in the making of The Soul of America can offer further insight and context for students. There are organizations, museums, and personal archives on this historical era, which continues to unfold today.
John Lewis: On President Johnson
(1:23:08 - 1:28:00)
Janice Wesley Kelsey
- Her motivation to be involved in activism
(01:05:32 - 01:11:48:1)
-The fight for voting rights after the passage of the Civil Rights Act
(01:48:11:10 - 01:54:46:10)
*Equipment to screen video segments
*Handout - Lesson Five Film Transcript
*Handout - President Lyndon Baines Johnson Radio and Television Remarks Upon Signing the Civil Rights Bill, July 2, 1964
(need to do transcripts of Interview Archive)
Length: Two 55-minute class periods
It is important to situate the 1964 Civil Rights Act and the 1965 Voting Rights Acts within the long history that included generations of activism, leadership of men, women, and children, political will, political leadership, and the strength and tensions inherent in coalition building.
The 1965 Voting Rights Act, and its subsequent amendments, effectively enfranchised all minority voters, not only African Americans. Since its passage it has policed voting discrimination. The fight to achieve their full potential continues.
You may want students to read blog posts from the National Museum for African American History that connect to The Soul of America film excerpt:
The National Archives created a Historic Moments online exhibition commemorating the fiftieth anniversary of the signing of the 1964 Civil Rights Act. If access is available, have students explore the site to build their background knowledge.
You may also want to walk students through an overarching timeline that corresponds to the documents included.
*Civil Rights Act of 1957
*May 2, 1963: Birmingham, Alabama. Birmingham police reacted to a peaceful desegregation march. Police dogs, nightsticks, and fire hoses are directed at civil rights demonstrators, many who are schoolchildren. The violence is broadcast on television and ignites protests across the country.
*August 28, 1963: Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, prominent Civil Rights leaders, and approximately 250,000 individuals gathered for the National March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom. Dr. King delivers the “I Have A Dream” speech.
*May 2-8, 1963: The children’s crusade. On the first day many children got arrested, but it wasn’t until the second day when the police hoses and dogs came out.
*June 11, 1963: President John F. Kennedy’s address to the nation announcing he will be sending civil rights legislation to Congress. A few hours later—just after midnight on June 12th—Medgar Evers, Mississippi director of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) is murdered in the driveway of his house.
*November 22, 1963: Assasination of President Kennedy, in Dallas, Texas.Vice President Lyndon Baines Johnson sworn into office on Air Force One on the return to Washington D.C.
*February 18, 1965: Murder of Jimmie Lee Jackson in Marion, Alabama.
*Selma to Montgomery Marches: March 7, 1965: First Selma to Montgomery March, “Bloody Sunday”; March 9, 1965; March 21, 1965
*Five days later President Johnson goes before Congress making it clear that he will pursue President Kennedy’s legislative civil rights agenda.
*July 2, 1964: President Johnson signed the new Civil Rights Act of 1964 into law with Dr. Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr., and other civil rights leaders present.
*December 10, 1964: Dr. King is awarded the Nobel Peace Prize
*March 6, 1965: Signing of the Voting Rights Act