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Inspiring youth activism through civil rights history

A new Center film documents and inspires youth activism.

Jan. 7, 2005 -- With the help of Center supporters, Teaching Tolerance is proud to release its sixth multimedia education kit, which will inspire millions of students to work for social change in their schools and communities.

Mighty Times: The Children's March tells the story of the courageous children of Birmingham, Alabama, who in 1963 challenged segregation in their city despite police dogs, fire hoses, and threats of arrest. These brave children played a dynamic role in the Civil Rights Movement — succeeding in ways their parents could not.

"The Children's March is a beacon of hope for young people who see and experience social problems and feel disempowered," said Jennifer Holladay, director of the Center's tolerance programs. "Too often in this country we talk about activism and social change as venues for adults.

"But the children of Birmingham brought segregation to its knees, and today's young people possess that same power — the powers of resistance, rebellion, and love for humanity. This film reminds each of us, young and old, that youth have the power to change the world."

The accompanying teacher's guide encourages students to think critically about the world around them in a cross-curricular, participatory way. With activities that touch on music, art, civics, and social studies, it can be used in any classroom.

Most importantly, the film serves as a call to action for today's young people, challenging them to ask, "What can I do to advance justice for all?"

The Children's March — created in partnership with HBO and Tell the Truth Pictures — has already received critical acclaim and was declared the best short film of 2004 by the International Documentary Association.

It follows in the footsteps of other notable Teaching Tolerance films, including the Oscar-winning A Time for Justice, part of the American Civil Rights Movement kit and the Academy Award-nominated Mighty Times: The Legacy of Rosa Parks.

The Children's March will be distributed to an estimated 50,000 schools beginning this month. And, because of generous Center supporters, it will be offered free of charge so every school can benefit from this inspiring project.