Educational Songs with Free Worksheets

Civil Rights Movement

Civil Rights Movement: an educational song for teaching major events in the civil rights movement including the roles of Martin Luther King, Jr. and Rosa Parks.

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This song recounts major events of the Civil Rights Movement including Martin Luther King's "I have a dream" speech and Rosa Parks' bus ride. It discusses the Jim Crow laws, and Brown v. Board of Education and Plessy v. Ferguson law cases. The song explains how the Civil Rights Act in 1964 made segregation illegal. The teaching materials, including lesson plans, worksheets, and activities help teachers and homeschool parents create lesson plans for the song topics. Students will better understand the important events of the Civil Rights Movement.

This social studies song is suitable to introduce the Civil Rights Movement to elementary school students (4th grade, 5th grade and 6th grade), middle school, high school, home school, and college classes.
Police dogs and fire hoses
Tear gas and broken noses
Boycotts, marches, demonstrations
The fight for civil rights throughout the nation.

Verse I
The civil war was over, and life was looking splendid
The union had prevailed, and slavery had ended
Human beings could no longer be bought and sold
But in the South, the Jim Crow Laws took hold

Saying restaurants, hotels, schools, or other spaces
Should be “separate but equal” for the different races
“Separate” was real, but “equal”? No way.
Plessy challenged it, but the court said it was okay.

But the law was just one form of persecution
Mobs took part in the violent retribution
Beating us down when we stood up for our rights
Or killing black men just for looking at whites

The NAACP fought Jim Crow in courts,
But to turn the tide of racism they needed more support
They said “How can we do this? There aren’t enough of us.”
Then Rosa Parks took a seat on that bus

Verse II
When Rosa Parks stood up by sitting down
And refused to move just because her skin was brown
And got arrested and sent to jail for her defiance
Dr. King found a way to protest without violence

He led the movement through the SCLC
Non-violent resistance, just like Gandhi
Marches, and sit-ins, and boycotts, of course
But their peaceful demonstrations often met brute force

From fellow Americans who didn’t like
That blacks could be treated equally to whites
There were beatings and arrests, but support was gained
For the nationwide civil rights campaign.

Martin Luther King had a dream
That all God’s children would be judged equally, but
In the blink of an eye, he was gone
A bullet brought him down, but his dream lived on…

Verse III
So what became of the Civil Rights Movement?
Are there specific ways to measure the improvement?
Supreme Court cases and Congressional acts
They’re complex, but here are the basic facts

In the case of Brown v. Board of Education
The Supreme Court had paved the way for integration
But Little Rock High School said they’d rather close
Than make whites go to school with negroes

But with the Civil Rights Act of ‘64
Segregation could never be legal anymore
Then the Voting Rights Act the very next year
Said voting discrimination must disappear

So we applaud the courage of our brothers and sisters
Who put up a hundred years of resistance
To a system that was cruel and unjust
There’s still work to be done, but now it’s up to us

Reading cozzens
Civil Rights Movement
This site is extensive and covers many events preceding the civil rights movement beginning with the Dred Scott case of 1857 as well as more recent events. Written as a high school and college project, the main contributor to this well-written history is Lisa Cozzens. It is a worthy site for all high school students as Ms. Cozzens is an excellent writer and historian.
Civil Rights Timelines
This site has time lines of early civil rights efforts from 1783-1952 and civil rights struggles and activities from 1954-1996. There are also related sites and reading listed. The site is easy to navigate, concise, and provides a useful chronological framework for further study.

Martin Luther King Institute (Stanford University)
MLK documents
Houses literally 100s of speeches, documents, photos and other authentic material from the early civil rights efforts until the late 1980s. The broader questions of human rights and global civil and human rights are also discussed with documentation, essays and photos. A great site to explore for individual or class study projects.

Lesson Plans & Activities

Martin Luther King Institute (Stanford University)
MLK documents
As cited earlier, this site is a gold mine for authentic information on MLK and other significant participants in the civil rights movement. It is comprehensive and all materials may be downloaded easily. There are excellent lesson plans with discussion questions and activities. Federal educational standards met by these lesson plans are listed.
Virtual Tour
Take students on a virtual tour of the museum so that they can learn about related exhibits.
The Civil Rights Movement
This comprehensive website features lesson plans, activities, assignments, links to other resources and a glossary of terms to assist in understanding the central themes of the movement.

The End of the Civil Rights Movement?
This link challenges students to think critically about where America is today in the struggle for civil rights.

Racial Inequality: The Remnants of a Troubled Time
This informative link talks about the 14th Amendment and Brown v. Board of Education.
Black History Theme Unit
The historical content of this unit begins during exploration and ends in the 1900s. It provides links that are broken down into specific subjects, such as Martin Luther King, Jr. and Sit-Ins. Each link has detailed summaries of the topic as well as links to worksheets and activities.
Black History Month
This collection of web resources includes information and activities on everything about the Civil Rights Movement. Activities include writing raps about influential figures and participating in a treasure hunt.
Freedom: A History of US
This PBS feature showcases lesson plans, resources, and learning materials for several themes surrounding American freedom, including the Civil Rights Movement.

Civil Rights (video) (log-in and subscription required)
Tim and Moby introduce students to the American civil rights movement of the 1950s and 1960s. They share what this movement was all about and why it was so important. It includes the famous Brown v. Board of Education trial case, and about what happened when Rosa Parks refused to give up her bus seat in Montgomery, Alabama. Sit-ins, Freedom Rides, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and what he did to contribute to the civil rights movement are also discussed.

Malcolm X (video)
Tim and Moby tell students about why Malcolm X was an important American figure, including how his politics differed from those of other civil rights activists of the 50s and 60s. Also discussed is black nationalism and why Malcolm’s political convictions lead him to reject his last name in favor of ‘X.’ Included are Malcolm’s early years, how prison changed his life—and how a trip to Mecca changed it again. Students will also learn about Malcolm’s untimely death.

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