Civil Rights Issues Today

Civil Rights Issues Today

For as long as there has been a United States, there have been debates about civil rights. What civil rights issues are people concerned about today? Let’s find out!
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A Monumental History

A Monumental History

From Reconstruction

Monuments designed to honor places, events, or people stand in public places across the United States. Some, such as the Lincoln Memorial and the Statue of Liberty, are classic icons. Others, such as the 2,000-pound African Killer Bee located in Hidalgo, Texas, are less than traditional. Monuments are often controversial. What is honorable to one person may be offensive to another. Also, the meanings of monuments change as the culture around them evolves. What do...

Does Racial Inequality Exist in Your School?

Does Racial Inequality Exist in Your School?

From Changing Laws

It can sometimes be hard to recognize racial inequality when it doesn’t directly affect you. Take a look at the statistics relating to your own school and see if anything surprised you.



From Singing for Equality

Music of the Civil Rights Era arose from several different styles of music, most notably gospel, folk, blues, and jazz. What did these different styles offer? How did they combine to form music that was completely new?

Planning a Boycott

Planning a Boycott

From Boycotts, Strikes, and Marches

Segregated buses and trains were only one of the ways whites discriminated against African Americans in the Jim Crow South. A boycott is the act of refusing to buy, use, or participate in something as a form of protest. Why didn’t the African American community use boycotts more often in their fight against segregation?



Booklist Continuing Series Nonfiction Showcase
"The Civil Rights Era series seeks to introduce middle school students to influential individuals who figured prominently in the struggle for civil rights. Engaging biographies, usually five per volume, provide detailed looks at subjects’ lives, motivations, contributions, and legacies. Each book’s unique introduction sets the political and social scene with pages filled with graphics (time lines, fact boxes, photos, reproductions, posters, album covers) and short paragraphs highlighted in blocks of color and set off by different fonts. Insets offer quotes, open-ended questions (what’s the big idea, how would this make you feel, what might you have done), and QR codes that link to news stories, speeches, music, and other primary sources. Important vocabulary words are defined in a comprehensive glossary, and additional back matter includes a list of resources and a selected bibliography. Singing for Equality profiles such musicians as Bob Dylan, Mavis Staples and the Staple Singers, Sam Cooke, James Brown, and Nina Simone. Sitting In, Standing Up spotlights leaders, including Thurgood Marshall, Fannie Lou Hamer, Martin Luther King Jr. and Malcolm X (who are covered in one chapter), John Lewis, and Ella Baker. There is necessarily some overlap in coverage, but the revisited material comes across as reinforcement as opposed to repetition. Overall, these volumes provide accessible entries into a complex period."

School Library Journal Online
Gr 5-8–This series installment delves into the lives of six leaders of the Civil Rights Movement. The five chapters cover Thurgood Marshall, Fannie Lou Hamer, Martin Luther King Jr. and Malcolm X, John Lewis, and Ella Baker. Extension projects are included at the end of each chapter, and QR codes are embedded throughout. There are plentiful photographs, colorful pull-quotes, a time line of each individual’s life, and a robust glossary. Taylor presents numerous opportunities for readers to critically engage with the content and make connections to their own experiences. She also references current events, such as the murder of Breonna Taylor by Louisville police officers in March 2020, and frequently asks readers to compare and contrast the movements and organizations of the civil rights era to the Black Lives Matter movement. Rather than framing the Civil Rights Movement as a monolith, Taylor demonstrates how there were varied approaches, leaders, and causes working toward the larger project of equality for Black Americans. The text’s inclusion of highest-ranking NAACP female staff member Ella Baker, an activist who may be familiar to some readers, is a welcome highlight. VERDICT: This timely offering for middle grade readers holds strong appeal for children and adults.

Praise for other titles by Diane C. Taylor

The Renaissance Artists: With History Projects for Kids
Booklist STARRED Review
"This is a wonderfully enticing introduction to the Renaissance via the lives of five artists: Michelangelo, da Vinci, Titian, Botticelli, and Raphael. An accessible introduction offers a concise overview of just what exactly the Renaissance was, establishing social and historical context, and then five chapters explore the contributions and lasting impact of each painter. The heavily illustrated text covers basic biographical information—family background, training, relationships (including sexual orientation), even personal appearance and grooming.  This appealing package will attract browsers and be a boon to student researchers and their teachers."

Gutsy Girls Go For Science: Engineers With Stem Projects for Kids
School Library Journal Series Made Simple
"These sprightly biography anthologies spotlight five women whose curiosity and determination led them to break barriers and change perceptions. QR codes support information relayed in time lines, archive photos, reflective questions, sidebars, and pull quotes. The codes are used to their very best effect, sending readers to news reports, archival video, websites, TEDx talks, and even a webcomic. Each link is listed in the backmatter. The five or six activities per book range from simple observation to rather involved projects and forgo detailed instructions, instead encouraging readers to make choices and assemble materials and create their own challenges. Engineers is a standout for showcasing little-known stories like water safety pioneer Ellen Swallow Richards, while Programmers has the best activities and uses real programming tools. VERDICT: A holistic approach incorporating personal stories, history, and STEM content."

Detailed Book Description

Sitting In, Standing Up: Leaders of the Civil Rights Era, tells the story of one of the most tumultuous and important eras in American history through the lives of five major figures of the Civil Rights Movement of the 1950s and 1960s: Thurgood Marshall, Fannie Lou Hamer, Martin Luther King, Jr., Ella Baker, and John Lewis. The work of these people sparked the passion of a nation and helped change the tide of social injustice in a way that reverberates to this day.

Hands-on projects about social justice issues alongside essential questions, links to online resources, and text-to-world connections promote a profound understanding of history and offer opportunities for social-emotional learning.

Try these research projects!

  • Read and respond to the Bill of Rights
  • Research today’s debate about voter ID laws
  • Stage a debate on a current civil rights issue
Available In:
Paperback, $15.95
Hardcover, $22.95
Includes: Table of Contents | Timeline | Glossary | Resources | Index
Specs: 8 x 10 size | 4-color interior | 112 pages
Subject: Social Studies
Content Focus: U.S. History


Who Will Lead Us?

Chapter One
Thurgood Marshall
Leader in the Law

Chapter Two
Fannie Lou Hamer
Fight for the Vote

Chapter Three
Martin Luther King, Jr.
Nonviolent Activism

Chapter Four
Ella Baker
Power to the People

Chapter Five
John Lewis
A Lifetime of Leadership

Selected Bibliography