The Civil Rights Movement
Many American families have seen dramatic change in attitudes about the
appropriate social relationship between blacks and whites -- and in their awareness
of racism. Some families have a "generation gap" in racial attitudes
and awareness, and some family members find that their perspectives change substantially
as they experience more of life. Has there been significant change in attitudes
and awareness in your family? If so, what caused the change? If not, what accounts
for the continuity?
To support your argument, get some family stories about the civil rights era.
The following questions should elicit family stories that will be useful to
you. Composing your own questions might be even more successful, especially
if you base those questions on your knowledge of your family chronology and
- In the Sixties, what did people you knew think about civil rights protestors
in the South?
- What did you hear about officials like "Bull" Connor who used
dogs and fire hoses against the protestors?
- Was there racial segregation in your hometown in the 1950s or after?
- What did people you knew think about Martin Luther King, Jr., while he was
alive? How about Malcolm X or Stokely Carmicheal?
- Were you ever so angry about some kind of injustice that you took action
(protested, wrote a letter, boycotted, etc.)?
- Did you ever help someone who was being discriminated against?
- Were you ever discriminated against?
More general questions for further conversation:
- Would you say that you're religious? Is the church (or synagogue or mosque, etc.)
that you attend now different from the one you attended as a child?
- Have your attitudes about religion changed with age?
- What religious figures are most inspirational to you? why?
- Of all the things you've done just because you knew that you should, when
was it hardest to "do the right thing"?
- What was the time in your life that made you the angriest? What did you
do about it?
- How does anyone know how to be a good person?