Civil Rights and the 1950s: Crash Course US History #39

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In which John Green teaches you about the early days of the Civil Rights movement. By way of providing context for this, John also talks a bit about wider America in the 1950s. The 1950s are a deeply nostalgic period for many Americans, but there is more than a little idealizing going on here. The 1950s were a time of economic expansion, new technologies, and a growing middle class. America was becoming a suburban nation thanks to cookie-cutter housing developments like the Levittowns. While the white working class saw their wages and status improve, the proverbial rising tide wasn’t lifting all proverbial ships. A lot of people were excluded from the prosperity of the 1950s. Segregation in housing and education made for some serious inequality for African Americans. As a result, the Civil Rights movement was born. John will talk about the early careers of Martin Luther King, Thurgood Marshall, Rosa Parks, and even Earl Warren. He’ll teach you about Brown v Board of Education, and the lesser known Mendez vs Westminster, the Montgomery Bus Boycott, and all kinds of other stuff.

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Hey teachers and students – Check out CommonLit’s free collection of reading passages and curriculum resources to learn more about the events of this episode. The Civil Rights Movement gained national attention with the murder of Emmett Till in 1955: https://www.commonlit.org/texts/emmett-till
That same year, Rosa Parks refused to give up her seat on a Montgomery bus, beginning the Montgomery bus boycott: https://www.commonlit.org/texts/rosa-parks-and-the-montgomery-bus-boycott
A young preacher named Martin Luther King Jr. gained national fame rallying support for the Montgomery bus boycott: https://www.commonlit.org/texts/martin-luther-king-jr
The end of segregation also began in the South with the Showdown in Little Rock in 1957: https://www.commonlit.org/texts/showdown-in-little-rock

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