Project Proposal

Moved to the Movement:
Examining Youth Involvement in the Civil Rights Movement

There is was, inspiration! “We didn’t want to disappoint our parents, but we were willing to break the law if we had to.”[1] In the hunt for the perfect topic on childhood I asked myself several questions. What could I research and use to teach my future students? What is missing from the history curriculum standards? What topics have a significant amount of sources but may not have tapped the child’s perspective? Stumbling across an article about the 1960 Chattanooga sit-ins I found what I was looking for, youth involvement in the Civil Rights Movement. The Civil Rights Movement remains one of the few topics in Virginia’s history curriculum that focuses on the voice of African Americans, but the figures introduced are adults, not children. After further reading and meeting with Dr. Ferrell, I will decide on a final argument relating to the students’ participation in the protests, their experiences with the Civil Rights Movement, and their parents’ opinions of the children’s involvement.

Several archives focus specifically on the Civil Rights Movement or specific events of the movement. Therefore, I will look through these archives for mentions of students, youth, and children. The Chattanooga History Center, for example, focuses solely on the sit-ins which were largely organized and participated by high school students. The Center’s collection of newspaper articles includes stories, pictures, and interviews of both protesting and counter-protesting youth, as well as arrest records from a variety of Chattanoogan periodicals during the Civil Rights Movement.[2] Other primary sources include memoirs and essays from protestors. Some of these essays were written at the time while others, namely the John Lewis memoir, was written after his long career as an activist, which began during the Civil Rights Movement when he was still in high school. The collection of the essays, unlike Lewis’ memoir, is that they contain analyses by historians or political scientists. Their analysis of these primary sources will help me connect the primary and secondary sources.

Many secondary sources on the Civil Rights Movement focus on the political impacts of the protests, racism and hate crimes, and famous figures. By focusing on specific aspects, I can discern which sources will be most useful. The primary goal of organizing the secondary sources into these categories will be to discern which sources better provide the voice of the children involved, those that focus on specific events and general experiences or those that focus on organizations, such as the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC). The events that children participated in during the Civil Rights Movement will create the StoryMap JS visual for my final project.

My project will consist of a traditional essay and a collection of visuals that connect to the content of the essay. Two components will use Northwestern University’s Knight Lab Timeline JS and StoryMap JS. The Timeline JS will present a timeline of my sources with a short summary of its significance to the topic. The StoryMap JS, which allows the integration of media into its timeline and mapping software, will serve as the key to the voice of the youth. I plan to incorporate pictures and video of the protests with the quotes of the participants into the timeline and GIS software along with a short description of the impact of the events of African American childhood during the Civil Rights Movement. Both of these visuals will be embedded into my web page along with the essay and a slideshow of some of my primary sources, such as pictures and newspaper clippings.

In conclusion, my project will be a StoryMap JS and Timeline JS that integrates events and primary and secondary sources that are analyzed in an essay. Though I have not settled on an exact thesis, the sources point to the possible argument that youth had a significant impact on the protests in the Civil Rights Movement. Having done similar projects, I am confident in my ability to set up my page and subpages on the website but will visit the DKC as needed.


[1] Alex Q. Arbuckle, “February 1960: Chattanooga Sit-ins; Courageous High Schoolers Take on Angry Mobs and Fire Hoses,” Retronaut via Mashable, February 19, 2017, accessed February 19, 2017,

[2] Chattanooga Sit-ins and Desegregation Digital Archive, Chattanooga History Center, Accessed February 19, 2017,


  • March 20: Source Analysis Due
  • March 6-10: Gather, read, listen, and watch primary and secondary source material.
    • This will be cited and compiled into an excel spreadsheet with an annotation and relevant picture. This excel spreadsheet will later be input into the Source Timeline JS, which is one of the visuals of my project. A relevant picture could be a picture of the book or film’s cover, a picture from the sit-in in the source, or the person in the oral history. The picture will have a source reference in a smaller font underneath. Below is an example of one of my own previous Timeline JS visuals for a research project.
    • The events in these sources will be noted with dates, locations, ages of children involved, a description, and an appropriate image. This will later form the StoryMap JS, which is another visual of my project. Below is a screenshot of the Knight Lab demo of how a detailed StoryMap JS can look when completed.
  • March 13: A rough version of the Timeline and StoryMap will be posted for peer feedback.
  • March 27: Edits to the Timeline and StoryMap will be made and the information will be used for a detailed outline of my paper.
  • April 3: Book Review Due
  • March 28 to April 3: Work on the Book Review and incorporating it into my paper.
  • April 10: Website Rough Draft
  • April 4 to April 9: Completing a rough draft of my paper for peer feedback through Slack, likely to the Civil Right chat rather than the whole class.
  • April 12: Website Editing
  • April 10 to April 18: Updated and complete Timeline and StoryMap, finish paper, upload everything to my website page
  • April 19: Website Peer Review
  • April 19 to April 23: Make corrections to my project from the peer review.
  • April 24: Presentation
  • April 24 to April 27: Make any final corrections and update the website before submission.
  • April 28: Final Project Due

Working Bibliography

Primary Sources

An Ordinary Hero: The True Story of Joan Trumpauer Mulholland. Directed by Loki Mulholland. Taylor Street Films, 2013. DVD.

Loki Mulholland is the son of Joan Trumpauer Mulholland, a Freedom Rider that was a teenager during the Civil Rights Movement, that directed this documentary.

Chattanooga Sit-ins and Desegregation Digital Archive. Chattanooga History Center. Accessed February 19, 2017.

This archive has over eighty scanned newspaper clippings regarding the Chattanooga sit-ins and the belated implementation of Brown v. Board of Education, including heavy student involvement in the protests.

Civil Rights History Project, Joan Trumpauer Mulholland, and John Dittmer. Joan Trumpauer Mulholland Oral History Interview Conducted by John Dittmer in Arlington, Virginia. The Library of Congress. Accessed February 19, 2017.

This interview is an oral history of a white female who chose to be an ally to the African Americans in her community when she decided to support desegregation before her Arlington, Virginia community did. She was a high schooler in her late teens when she became a Freedom Rider.

Civil Rights History Project, Joseph Mosnier, Dorie Ladner, and Joyce A. Ladner. Dorie Ann Ladner and Joyce Ladner Oral History Interview Conducted by Joseph Mosnier in Washington, D.C., 2011-09-20. Washington, D.C., November 9, 2011. The Library of Congress, Accessed February 19, 2017.

This oral history of two sisters discusses not only their participation in the Civil Rights Movement but their family’s approval of their decision.

Civil Rights History Project, Joseph Mosnier, and Freeman A. Hrabowski. Freeman A. Hrabowski Oral History Interview Conducted by Joseph Mosnier in Baltimore, Maryland, 2011-08-14. Baltimore, MD. November 8, 2011. The Library of Congress. Accessed February 19, 2017.

This video is an oral history of a then twelve-year-old elementary student who participated in the Birmingham Children’s Crusade of 1963.

Civil Rights History Project, Joseph Mosnier, and Marilyn Luper Hildreth. Marilyn Luper Hildreth Oral History Interview Conducted by Joseph Mosnier in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, 2011-05-24. Oklahoma City, OK. November 5, 2011. The Library of   Congress. Accessed February 19, 2017.

This video is an oral history from a mother that discusses taking her daughter with her to NAACP meetings. Her daughter, Clara Luper, would join the NAACP Youth Council.

Davies, Philip, and Iwan W. Morgan, eds. From Sit-ins to SNCC: The Student Civil Rights Movement in the 1960s. Gainesville, FL: University Press of Florida, 2012.

This book is a collection of essays by members of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee who participated in sit-ins in North Carolina.

Freedom Riders. Directed by Stanley Nelson. PBS: Public Broadcasting Service. February 2010. Accessed March 2, 2017.

This documentary focuses on the Freedom Riders, their activities, and participants, and includes Joan Trumpauer Mulholland, who was a teenager when she joined the Civil Rights Movement.

Levine, Ellen. Freedom’s Children: Young Civil Rights Activists Tell Their Own Stories. New York: Puffin Books, 2000.

This book provides the oral histories of African Americans that participated in the Civil Rights Movement protests while they were in grade school.

Lewis, John, and Michael D’Orso. Walking with the Wind: A Memoir of the Movement. New York: Simon & Schuster Paperbacks, 2015.

In his memoir, Congressman Lewis discusses his time as a teenager in the Civil Rights Movement and his participation in major events. Lewis participated in the Freedom Rides, the Selma marches, and Bloody Sunday, offering an exceptional perspective to youth participation in the Civil Rights Movement.

Noblit, George W., ed. School Desegregation: Oral Histories Toward Understanding the Effects of White Domination. Rotterdam, The Netherlands: Sense Publishers, 2015.

This book is a collection of oral histories that includes the Civil Rights Movement, desegregation, and student experiences.

We Had Sneakers, They Had Guns: The Kids Who Fought for Civil Rights in Mississippi. Performed by Tracy Sugarman. The Library of Congress: Webcasts. March 5, 2009. Accessed February 19, 2017.

In this video, journalist Tracy Sugarman discusses his interviews with thousands of students that participated in the deadly Mississippi Delta protests to enfranchise African Americans.

Secondary Sources

Arbuckle, Alex Q. “February 1960: Chattanooga Sit-ins; Courageous High Schoolers Take on Angry Mobs and Fire Hoses.” Retronaut via Mashable. February 19, 2017. Accessed March 13, 2017.

This article provides pictures of the Chattanooga Sit-ins and testimony from participants along with a synopsis of what occurred.

Catsam, Derek Charles. Freedom’s Main Line: The Journey of Reconciliation and the Freedom Rides. Lexington, KY: University Press of Kentucky, 2011.

This book analyses the Freedom Rides and includes the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee and moves beyond the legal and classroom conflicts of the Civil Rights Movement.

Hall, Stephen G. A Faithful Account of the Race African American Historical Writing in Nineteenth-century America. Chapel Hill, NC: University of North Carolina Press, 2009.

Though this text is not focused on my topic specifically, Hall can provide an overview of how African Americans have written about their own history, including the Civil Rights Movement.

Hennessy, John. “Sit-in Corner: July 1960.” Fredericksburg History. August 4, 2011. Accessed March 2, 2017.

This article focuses specifically on sit-ins in Downtown Fredericksburg shops. There are no citations aside from a reference that some of the information is coming from the Rappahannock Heritage Center, but there are pictures and names I could build off of for my own project.

Levinson, Cynthia. We’ve Got a Job: The 1963 Birmingham Children’s March. Atlanta, GA: Peachtree Publishers, 2015.

This book recounts the events of the Birmingham Children’s March and some has some personal stories of participants that were in grade school.

Sidersky, Robyn. “Gladys Todd, Local Civil Rights Leader, Dies at 101.” The Free Lance-Star. January 21, 2015. Accessed March 2, 2017.

This recent article briefly discusses Gladys Todd. She, her husband, Clarence, and their daughter, Gaye Todd Adegbalola, were all key coordinators and participants of the Civil Rights Movements and sit-ins in Fredericksburg. The Fredericksburg sit-ins are significant because most others were college students but Mary Washington College was a school for white women and Walker Grant (then) High School was an all-black public school so they were the primary participants in the protests. This source is less one I plan to use and rather a placeholder reminder to find the contacts for the best resources on the Fredericksburg sit-ins beyond the John J. Wright Educational & Cultural Center Museum and the Rowser Mural.