How did Black Mississippians resist white supremacy and claim their constitutional rights?
Second edition. February 2019.

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. The reading reviews the history of the long struggle of African Americans for freedom. Part I identifies the historical roots of racial inequality and discrimination by examining 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 grassroots level. The readings conclude with an examination of the legacies of the civil rights movement.

Preview this unit. Preview includes the Table of Contents for the Student Text and the Teacher Resource Book as well as a student reading excerpt and one lesson plan.


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.

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.

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

Considering the Perspectives—1964: The Atlantic City Democratic National Convention

Students assume the roles of historians and use primary sources to explore the 1964 Democratic National Convention, at which African American delegates from the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party challenged the legitimacy of the all-white Mississippi Democratic Party.

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.

In this online lesson, students review a timeline of black activism, identify patterns and themes, consider accomplishments of civil rights activists and the enduring obstacles to racial equality, and evaluate platforms for activism and the role of social media in protests.

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.

Crespino, Joseph. In Search of Another Country: Mississippi and the Conservative Counterrevolution. Princeton, New Jersey: Princeton University Press, 2007.

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

Hamlin, Françoise N. Crossroads At Clarksdale: The Black Freedom Struggle In the Mississippi Delta After World War II. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2012.

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.

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.

A selection of speeches, interviews, and documentary clips from the civil rights movement.
Resources and primary sources that explore the history and people of SNCC.
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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