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Activity - Civil Rights Mini-Documentary
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About the Lesson
Prior Knowledge

Civil Rights Mini-Documentary
Social Studies, Grade 7

Using the entire TAMI video catalog, students will research a topic on the Civil Rights Era of the 1950s and 1960s that they are assigned in class. These topics could include the following: segregation, freedom rides, James Farmer, Lulu Bell Madison White, LULAC, NAACP, Civil Rights Act of 1964, Civil Rights Act of 1965, Poll Taxes, Lyndon B. Johnson, KKK, and Hector P. Garcia. Students will be using a video from the TAMI video catalog to create a mini-documentary to present for the class. The mini-documentary does not need to be any longer than two minutes, and must use an archived video that pertains to the topic assigned. Students may use other primary sources for this project, but everything used must be attributed to where they obtained the material. This project will help the events of the Civil Rights Movement come to life visually.

The following activity assumes that students know what events led up to the Civil Rights Movement, including slavery, Black Codes, Jim Crow Laws, and segregation.

Students should be familiar with the following people: Martin Luther King, Jr., James Farmer, Lulu Belle Madison White, Hector P. Garcia, Henry B. Gonzales, Rosa Parks, Lyndon B. Johnson, and John F. Kennedy.

Students should know laws that were passed during this era, including the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965. They should also know the Supreme Court case Brown v. Board of Education.

Students should have some background knowledge on several organizations during this time, including the Ku Klux Klan, NAACP, and LULAC.

Students should be aware of the causes of the Civil Rights Movement and the results of this movement.

Make a list of all of the topics you have discussed in the Civil Rights Era lesson and put each on a piece of paper. Put them all in a cup and then get each student to pick one out. The topic they choose will be the topic of their mini-documentary.
Show students a documentary from the TAMI website as an example of how their documentary should look. This video on the Galveston Hurricane is a good example:

Give students time to start a script for their mini-documentary. It must include the following points:

  • An introduction to what their topic is about 
  • a middle that shares an interesting part of their topic, 
  • and a conclusion to explain why it is still important to talk about this topic today.

Then, ask students to search for a video on the TAMI website that goes along with their topic. If they cannot find a video that exactly matches, they will need to find something that can be used as a supplement to what the mini-documentary will be about. You can access a collection of preselected videos by registering here: You can request additional video files by contacting Requests may take 1-3 business days to process.

Share with your students other websites they can use as sources for their mini-documentary, like Internet Archive or Wikimedia Commons.  Remind them that any information or photos they use from another source needs to be accredited in their mini-documentary.

Students will use a video editing program to edit their documentaries and complete the project to satisfy the following grading rubric:

  • Video is 2 minutes long or less (30%)
  • Uses a video from the TAMI website (10%)
  • Video includes (40%):
      • Segment #1: This will introduce your topic and explain the who, what, when, where, and why of your topic.
      • Segment #2: This segment will dive deep into a specific part of your video and be able to explain in great detail why this topic was important during the Civil Rights Era.
      • Segment #3: This segment will conclude your mini-documentary and be able to explain why this topic is still important for people to remember today.
  • Creativity and Grammar (10%)
  • Attribution to TAMI and other sources (10%)

Social Studies, Grade 7

7.1(A) identify the major eras in Texas history, describe their defining characteristics, and explain the purpose of dividing the past into eras, including Civil Rights

7.7(D) describe and compare the civil rights and equal rights movements of various groups in Texas in the 20th century and identify key leaders in these movements such as James L. Farmer Jr., Hector P. Garcia, Oveta Culp Hobby, Lyndon B. Johnson, the League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC), Jane McCallum, and Lulu Belle Madison White

Introspective Cage