And The Children Shall Lead

Children and the Civil Rights Movement

Child of the Civil Rights MovementMany children and teens helped to mobilize the nation in the fight against inequality. 

On May 2-4, 1963, hundreds of students marched in the "Children's Crusade" in Birmingham,. Ala. A song created for the "Children's Crusade" movement was sung during the march:

"We've got a job,
We've got a job to do.
We can't get freedom 'til we get through."
(Words and music by Carlton Reese and the Birmingham Movement Choir)


Officials tried to break their spirits through intimidation and violence, but the children displayed the steadfastness of nonviolent resistance; fire hoses and attack dogs could not stop the determination of the youths for social change. Their courage inspired their elders and the nation, and the arrests and shameful treatment of children and teenagers during the Children's Crusade galvanized the public into action.

The children's strength and determination can be seen in the following movies, which we will be screening on Wednesdays at 4 p.m. and Fridays at noon in January and February:

And the Children Shall Lead And the Children Shall Lead
When a group of civil rights activists comes to town, the tension between black and white citizens grows. It's up to Rachel and her friends to persuade the adults to overcome the racial barriers that divide them.

Showing Wednesday, Jan. 23 and Friday, Jan. 25
Selma, Lord Selma Selma Lord Selma
The story of a young schoolgirl in Selma, Ala., who is inspired by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. to resist the degradation that her fellow African-Americans are suffering.

Showing Wednesday, Jan. 30 and Friday, Feb. 1
Ruby Bridges Ruby Bridges
When bright six-year-old Ruby is chosen to be the first African-American to integrate her local New Orleans elementary school, she is subjected to the true ugliness of racism for the very first time.

Showing Wednesday, Feb. 6 and Friday, Feb. 15


You can also read up on children's efforts in the civil rights movement: 

Not Separate, Not Equal Just Like Martin
Not Separate, Not Equal
by Brenda Wilkinson
Young Malene helps integrate her public school in Georgia.
Just Like Martin
by Ossie Davis
After a bombing kills two classmates, 14-year-old Isaac Stone organizes a children's march for civil rights.


If you have a hunger for more, check out our reading list of more books for young people about the civil rights movement.