Civil Rights Movement Timeline Activity

The Civil Rights Movement is one of my favorite eras to teach in US History. There's so many compelling stories and it's easy for students to connect with the young people advocating for change in American society.

There's also a lot of events to cover. A great way to either introduce students to the era or review the Civil Rights Movement as a whole is with a timeline. This gives students a broad perspective of what was going on and how long it took from Claudette Colvin and Rosa Parks first refusing to give up their seats in Montgomery until the Civil Rights Act finally ended segregation. 

I use this set of timeline activities in my US History classes

First, students paste into their notebooks a 2-page timeline that covers the height of the Civil Rights era. Once completed, it will look like this:

Students respond to the prompts for each event after reading short overviews that are placed at stations around the room. The 10 events we cover in this timeline are:

  • Brown v. The Board of Education
  • The Montgomery Bus Boycott
  • The Little Rock Nine and Integration
  • The Greensboro Woolworth's Sit-ins
  • The Freedom Riders
  • The March on Washington
  • Birmingham Baptist Church Bombing
  • The Civil Rights Act of 1964
  • The Selma to Montgomery Marches
  • The Voting Rights Act

For each reading, the download includes a printable PDF and an editable Google Doc version (with links for further learning).

Students rotate through the 10 stations in pairs and answer analysis questions, draw pictures, and connect to events from today.  

If you are in a paperless classroom or prefer to complete the activity all online, there is a digital version in which students respond on a Google Doc. I use this version for my absent students that miss the stations lesson.  

The download also includes a different "drag-and-drop" timeline of the same events with additional links to online sources. This version has students sort the events in order and then answer questions about them.

After completing either version of the timelines, students use a primary source analysis worksheet to analyze either the Civil Rights Act or Voting Rights Act. It's a great way to add complexity and higher order thinking to an engaging lesson plan on the entire era! 

The options for differentiation make this a perfect resource for a diverse classroom. There's also video links, a lesson plan, and more included in the download

If  you think you might need more great resources for teaching the Civil Rights Movement in your middle school or high school classroom, you can also download this as part of my Civil Rights Movement Unit Plan Bundle!

OR you can also sign up for a subscription to US History here at Students of History. Joining gives you immediate access to HUNDREDS of engaging lesson plans just like this one. Every day throughout the entire year is fully planned out for you with warm ups, videos, projects, worksheets, and more. You'll never have to stress about a lesson plan again! 







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