• The Civil Rights Movement

    John F. Kennedy took office 100 years after the beginning of the Civil War. Slavery had been illegal for many years, but racism and discrimination persisted. In the South, black and white people couldn’t share the same restaurants, buses, or schools. Throughout the country, black people didn’t have the same opportunities as whites.

    John F. Kennedy wanted to change that. At the same time, many blacks quietly began protesting for better treatment. Among them was a man named Martin Luther King, Jr. The Civil Rights movement was gaining momentum.

    Fun Facts:

    • In 1954, the Supreme Court ruled that schools could not segregate black children and white children. All children deserved the same opportunity for a quality education. In the Deep South, people were angry about this. They wanted to keep the children separate. You can read more about this in the picture book, The Story of Ruby Bridges, by Robert Coles and George Ford.
    • In 1955, Rosa Parks was arrested for refusing to give up her seat on a bus to a white person. Other African-Americans refused to ride the buses, boycotting them, in response to Parks’ arrest. In 1956, the Supreme Court said that segregated buses were unconstitutional.
    • During 1960, black college students refused to leave a lunch counter even though they had been denied service. Other students began doing the same thing. This was called a sit-in. Many restaurants and lunch counters changed their policies as a result.
    • Martin Luther King led a group of protesters to peacefully protest in Birmingham, Alabama. The police there attacked the protesters with dogs and fire hoses. Many of the protesters were taken to jail and King’s hotel and his brother’s house were bombed. President Kennedy sent troops into the city to restore peace. City leaders agreed to give blacks more rights.
    • Throughout the South, protesters marched during the early 1960s. By 1963, about 14,000 demonstrators had been arrested.
    • On June 11, 1963, President Kennedy announced a bill that would make it illegal to discriminate against someone because of his or her race. President Johnson, who took Kennedy’s place, pushed the bill through Congress.


    1. Racism: an attitude of hating or disrespecting someone because of his race or skin color
    2. Segregate: to keep separate
    3. Boycott: to formally refuse to use or participate in something

    Questions and Answers:

    Question: Did discrimination end with the Civil Rights Act of 1964?

    Answer: No. Only three weeks after Martin Luther King led a peaceful march to Washington D.C., a bomb exploded in a church in Birmingham, killing for girls. Twenty other people were injured. Racial relationships are still complicated sometimes.

    Learn More

    Watch a video of Martin Luther King, Jr. giving his famous “I Have a Dream” speech.


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Tobin, Declan. (2024). Facts for Kids About The Civil Rights Movement - American History. American History for Kids. Retrieved from https://www.americanhistoryforkids.com/civil-rights-movement/

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