Did you know that youth played an instrumental role in the Civil Rights Movement of the 1950s and 60s? Youth remain a necessary voice for social change!
1. Ruby Nell Bridges Hall
An American activist known for being the first African-American child to attend an all-white elementary school in the South when she integrated the New Orleans, Louisiana public school system by Court Order on November 14, 1960.
2. John Lewis
One of the founding members and a former chairman of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC), is celebrated as one of the most courageous young leaders of the Civil Rights Movement.
(Source: The Martin Luther King Research and Education Institute)
3. The Little Rock Nine
The nine African-American students involved in the desegregation of Little Rock Central High School in Arkansas.
(Source: The Encyclopedia of Arkansas History & Culture)
4. Four Little Girls
On September 15th 1963, a bomb exploded during Sunday morning services in the 16th Street Baptist Church in Birmingham, Alabama, a hotbed of civil rights activities, killing four African-American girls. The explosion marked a turning point in the civil rights movement and contributed to support for passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.
5. Greensboro Four
While not the first sit-ins of the Civil Rights Movement, the Greensboro sit-ins were an instrumental action, leading to increased national sentiment at a crucial period in US history. The primary event took place at the Woolworth store in Greensboro, NC and was led by four freshman from North Carolina A&T University. The site of the store is now the International Civil Rights Center and Museum.
6. Mississippi Civil Rights Workers
On June 21, 1964, three young civil rights workers were murdered near Philadelphia in Nashoba County, Mississippi for working to register black voters in Mississippi during Freedom Summer.
7. The Tougaloo Nine
In 1961, nine African American students who were members of the Tougaloo NAACP Youth Council participated in Mississippi’s first civil rights “read-in” at the whites-only Jackson Municipal Public Library.
(Source: Mississippi Civil Rights Project)
8. Diane Nash
Chairperson of the student sit-in movement in Nashville, Tennessee—the first southern city to desegregate its lunch counters—as well as one of the founding students of the Student Non-violent Coordinating Committee.
(Source: American Program Bureau Speakers)
9. Claudette Colvin
At the age of 16, was the first person arrested for resisting bus segregation in Montgomery, Alabama, preceding the more publicized Rosa Parks incident by nine months. (Source: Wikipedia)
10. The Birmingham Children's Crusade
A pivotal moment in the Civil Rights Movement where hundreds of school-age students marched in Birmingham, Alabama in 1963, insisting on speaking with the mayor about segregation in their city.
This post originally appeared on the Thrive Foundation. --- Peter L. Samuelson is the Director of Research and Evaluation for the Thrive Foundation for Youth where he has primary responsibility for building, implementing and refining the Foundation’s research and evaluation tools.