Free course

The American Civil Rights Movement

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The American Civil Rights Movement

In this free course, The American Civil Rights Movement, you will learn about the mass movement for racial equality in the United States that reached its zenith during the 1950s and 1960s. During this turbulent period in United States history, black Americans sought to overturn deeply entrenched systems of racial segregation and discrimination. This course discusses the key events in this campaign for social justice, drawing on a wide range of primary sources. In doing so, it assesses the achievements, shortcomings and revolutionary qualities of the civil rights movement.

Use of racial language and terms

This course deals with topics involving racial issues. Since the societies being studied were characterised by deeply-held and widespread racist views, this course contains language that is also racist. Although these may provoke a strong personal response, we believe it is necessary to engage with such attitudes to reach a clear understanding of the past.

This OpenLearn course is an adapted extract from the Open University course A113 Revolutionsand is part of a set of four OpenLearn courses, covering Revolutions of the Sixties


Course learning outcomes

After studying this course, you should be able to:

  • understand some of the key events in the history of the civil rights movement
  • understand the movement’s achievements and shortcomings
  • assess how ‘revolutionary’ the civil rights movement was
  • interpret a range of relevant primary sources, including interviews, speeches and letters.

First Published: 29/09/2020

Updated: 07/09/2021

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Course content