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The participants of the civil rights movement recognized the power of song and performance and utilized this form of cultural communication in their quest for equal justice under law. The popular music of the early 1960s offers a unique and engaging entry point into the politics surrounding equal rights in mid-twentieth century America.
Through collaborative activities and presentations, students will find the meaning behind the music and compare and contrast the major figures, documents, and events of the day to better understand the political and cultural messages. The first activity of the lesson focuses on the Freedom Riders as a example of the interweaving of protest and music. In the second activity, students participate in an interview-based activity to develop skills in oral history and relate the past to the present. In the remaining activities students will learn to analyze the meanings and messages behind the music and discover how such creative outpourings continue to play a vital role in the struggle for the civil rights.
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