These are the New York model standards for teaching the civil rights movement. The text highlighted in gray represents content that was added to the state¹s existing standards or was revised to create a model standard that provides comprehensive coverage of the civil rights movement.

Grade 5

Martin Luther Ling, Jr. is included in a list of holidays students should understand for effective citizenship.

Grades 7-8
Unit eleven (“The changing nature of the American people from World War II to the present”)

C. Civil rights movement placed focus on equality and democracy

  1. Movement’s roots in slavery, Reconstruction and Jim Crow laws.
  2. Important executive and judicial decisions supported equal rights
  3. Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka (1954) overturned legal basis of segregation.
  4. Activists and leaders such as Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. developed strategies to secure civil rights for African-Americans. 
  5. Groups like the Ku Klux Klan, White Citizens Councils and symbolic figures such as Bull Connor resisted expansion of civil rights.
  6. Women, Native American Indians, and others also sought greater equality.
  7. Supreme Court moved to protect individual rights: Miranda v. Arizona (1966), Tinker v. Des Moines Independent School District (1969)

D. Self-confidence of early postwar years eroded by series of events.

  1. Assassinations of major leaders: Kennedy, King
  2. Nation split over involvement in Vietnam War
  3. Groups in society turn to violence to reach their goals.
  4. Resignation of President Nixon
  5. Oil crisis and skyrocketing inflation


  • Analyze the conflict between federal and state law concerning the issue of school desegregation, using primary source documents.
  • What method did minority groups use in their attempts to gain equal rights?
  • Create a poster indicating the significant people and events in the struggle for equal rights of a particular minority group.

Suggested Documents: Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s address at the Lincoln Memorial (1963): “I have a dream … ,”; Kennedy’s inaugural speech; song, “We Shall Overcome”

Unit Seven (“World in Uncertain Times: 1950-Present”)

II. Containment and Consensus: 1945-1960
C. Domestic Policies

2. Civil rights

a. A. Philip Randolph and the desegregation of the armed forces.
b. Jackie Robinson breaks the color barrier
c. Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka, 1954; de jure and de facto discrimination.
d. Beginnings of modern civil rights movement

(1) Rosa Parks and the Montgomery bus boycott
(2) Little Rock: school desegregation, the conflict between Eisenhower and Orval Faubus.
(3) Segregation in public transportation ruled unconstitutional
(4) Sit-ins, civil disobedience and nonviolent tactics
(5) Expanding the right to vote: literacy tests, poll taxes, Mississippi summer, voter registration, Selma-to-Montgomery march
(6) Civil Rights Act of 1957

III. Decade of Change: 1960s
A. The Kennedy Years

1. The New Frontier: dreams and promises

a. Civil rights actions

(1) James Meredith at the University of Mississippi
(2) Public career of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Birmingham protest (“Letter from Birmingham Jail”)
(3) Assassination of Medgar Evers
(4) March on Washington

b. Resistance: Birmingham bombings and other extrajudicial enforcement of segregation.

B. Johnson and the Great Society

3. Continued demands for equality: civil rights movement

a. Black protest, pride, and power

(1) NAACP (National Association for the Advancement of Colored People): legal judicial leadership, Thurgood Marshall, Urban League

b. Case studies

(1) SNCC (Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee): sit-in movement among college students
(2) SCLC (Southern Christian Leadership Conference): promote nonviolent resistance, sit-ins, boycotts
(3) CORE (Congress of Racial Equality): “Freedom Riders,” James Farmer
(4) Testing of segregation laws
(5) Others: Black Muslims; prominence of Malcolm X: advocating separation of races, separate state in the United States
(6) Civil unrest: Watts riot, 1965, as example; Kerner Commission
(7) Assassination of Malcolm X (February 1965)

c. Legislative impact

(1) Civil Rights Act of 1964 (Heart of Atlanta Motel, Inc. v. United States, 1964), modifications since 1964
(2) 24th Amendment (eliminating poll tax)
(3) Voting Rights Act, 1965
(4) Court decisions since 1948 upholding or modifying preferential treatment in employment; equal access to housing; travel and accommodations; voting rights; educational equity
(5) Fair Housing Act, 1968

d. Current impact. Evaluate the civil rights movement’s accomplishments and remaining objectives.

Students should understand that in spite of the victory of the forces of integration in the Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka decision, there was much resistance to a broader application of the principle of integration. Students should study various specific events in the civil rights movement from 1955 to 1965, including Mississippi Freedom Summer.

- Students should understand that the 1960s witnessed protest movements of peoples of diverse backgrounds (African-Americans, women, Hispanic-Americans, Native American Indians).

- Compare and contrast the civil rights movement after 1965 with the earlier phase (1955-1965) in terms of (1) goals, (2) leadership, (3) strategies, and (4) achievements.

- To what extent did the civil rights movement influence the demands for equality on the part of Hispanic- Americans and Native American Indians? How successful were their efforts?