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With Martin Luther King Jr. day coming up, we are reflecting on the fight for civil rights today and the struggle for civil rights fifty years ago. There are many similarities that can help your students connect the past to the present.  To help you do this, we’re sharing our 5 favorite civil rights protest stories from the past and present.

Lunch CounlunchcounterEDter Protests – One of the defining moments of the civil rights movement was the lunch counter protests in 1960. Four African American students sat down at the lunch counter and demanded to be served. This story remembers one of the four teenagers who protested.

Ferguson Protests – The protests that started in Ferguson, Missouri are the defining civil rights protests of our time. When a grand jury decided not to indict a while police officer for shooting an unarmed black teengers, protests, some violent, erupted across the country. How are these protests different from older civil rights protests?

Ferguson.squareLittle Rock Nine – In 1954 nine black students faced violent protests for doing what they had every right to do, go to school.  The US Supreme Court decision in Brown v. Board of Education to desegregate schools rocked the nation.  The protests against segregation made The Little Rock Nine students symbolic of the white resistance to civil rights for black Americans.

Race and Equality in Policing – Today, racial tension between police and black Americans continues to simmer.  It started in Ferguson and has spread across the country.  This story looks at the underlying racial tensions that exist between Ferguson residents and the police.

civil-resistance-movementsCivil Resistance Movements –  When faced with oppression what’s more effective – violent or non-violent resistance? This public radio story looks at research of conflicts and resistance movement over time and the effectiveness of fighting back without violence. Have students use this analysis to better understand the two sides of the Civil Rights Movement – Martin Luther King Jr’s message of non-violent resistance and Malcolm X’s “Black Power” philosophy.