How did black Mississippians resist white supremacy and claim their constitutional rights?
First edition. October 2012.

The civil rights movement was one of the most pivotal events in U.S. history. Today we think of the key leaders, mass demonstrations, and watershed legislation that have become synonymous with this movement. Often forgotten are the everyday people who were on the frontlines of the fight for justice and equality, working for change in their home communities. Freedom Now: The Civil Rights Movement in Mississippi explores the history of the civil rights movement at the local level as well as the national level. Mississippi was one of the most racially divided states in the South. It symbolized the oppression and violence of white supremacy, and the strong black movement that rose up in response.


Three readings explore the history of the struggle of African Americans for freedom. Part I of the reading identifies the historical roots of racial inequality and discrimination by exploring the end of slavery, Reconstruction, and the rise of Jim Crow. In Part II, students read about the movement that developed in Mississippi, and the ways in which national and local forces interacted at the grass-roots level. The readings conclude with an examination of the legacies of the civil rights movement.


Data Analysis: Separate, but Equal? Measuring Plessy v. Ferguson in Mississippi

Students analyze historical data to compare education resources for white and black students in Mississippi.

The Anti-Lynching Campaign of Ida B. Wells

Students use primary sources to examine the work of an early civil rights activist.

Voices from Mississippi

Students read primary sources about the experiences of female student activists in Mississippi.

Women's Experiences in SNCC

Students use primary sources to understand the experiences of SNCC organizers in Mississippi.

Singing for Freedom

Students analyze songs sung by the Freedom Riders in 1961 and consider their importance in the civil rights movement.

Oral Histories: Students in the Civil Rights Movement

In this online lesson, students hear stories from former civil rights activists about what motivated them to join the movement.

A Nonviolent Movement?

Students use primary sources to assess popular perceptions of the civil rights movement and examine different perspectives on the role of violence.

Civil Rights and U.S. Public Schools Today

Students review the role of two Supreme Court decisions: Plessy v. Ferguson and Brown v. Board of Education and consider arguments around the issue of school segregation.

Supplemental Resources

Additional reference material for added context and support.


Cobb, Charles. On the Road to Freedom: A Guided Tour of the Civil Rights Trail (Chapel Hill, North Carolina: Algonquin Books, 2007) 388 pages.

Crespino, Joseph. In Search of Another Country: Mississippi and the Conservative Counterrevolution (Princeton, New Jersey: Princeton University Press) 360 pages.

Dittmer, John. Local People: Struggle for Civil Rights in Mississippi (Urbana and Chicago, IL: University of Illinois Press, 1995) 560 pages.

Holsaert, Faith S., and Noonan, Martha Prescod Norman, and Richardson, Judy, and Robinson, Betty Garman, and Young, Jean Smith, and Zellner, Dorothy M., eds. Hands on the Freedom Plow: Personal Accounts by Women in SNCC (Urbana, Chicago, and Springfield, IL: University of Illinois Press, 2010) 656 pages.

Payne, Charles M. I’ve Got the Light of Freedom: The Organizing Tradition and the Mississippi Freedom Struggle (Berkeley, CA: University of California Press, 1997) 506 pages.

A selection of speeches, interviews, and documentary clips from the civil rights movement.
Provides primary source documents and multimedia accounts of the national civil rights movement. Click on the “Freedom Riders” tab under “Interactive Features” for an in-depth look at the Freedom Rides of the early 1960s.
Provides short clips and a full-length film detailing the history and individuals involved with the Freedom Rider movement.
View selected clips from "Freedom Summer," on American Experience PBS.
Provides an encyclopedia of key figures and terms from the civil rights movement. Also provides letters, sermons, and speeches written by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
Provides information and primary source documents related to the admission of James Meredith to the University of Mississippi in 1962.
Provides access to historical manuscripts, photographs, and oral histories from the civil rights movement in Mississippi.
Provides films and essays describing LBJ’s time in office.
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