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Cinema and Civil Rights

Seminar Leader:
Karen Redrobe


What does the dominant narrative of the civil rights move-ment—as expressed through film—reveal, but also distort and suppress? This course used film and media resources, including local ones from Philadelphia, to help us think to-gether about how to develop, energize, and expand course units on the Civil Rights Movement. Some of the questions we will consider include: how have filmmakers depicted the lives, aspirations, and strategies of those who have strug-gled for equality in the United States of America between the late 1920s through the mid-1970s? How can course units place the Civil Rights Movement in the context of oth-er freedom struggles, including Black Lives Matter, that are part of students’ contemporary landscape? What strategies have filmmakers adopted as they try to give audio-visual form to freedom, the struggle for it, and the denial of it? How can students evaluate the truth claims and versions of history and freedom offered in films?

Unit TitleAuthor


How Can We Expect Them to Stand Up in a Crooked Room?

Regina Hastings
Keywords: cinema, communications, film, Media, Pop culture, Reading, Sociology, writing

African American Hair, Freedom, and Civil Rights: Using Film, Media, and African American Hair Styles to Analyze Civil Rights

Aisha Al-Muid
Keywords: African American, cinema, civil rights, film, freedom, Hair, Media

From “We Shall Overcome” to “Black Lives Matter”: Learning from the Present, Building on the Past

Geoffrey Winikur
Keywords: Black Art, Black Lives Matter, civil rights, collaborative learning, culturally responsive teaching, dialogic teaching, feminist pedagogy, inquiry-based learning

Of Farms and Factories: Assessing the American Labor Movement through Of Mice and Men

Keeler Park
Keywords: collaborative discussion, ESOL, Literature, Of Mice and Men

Teaching African American Culture Through Cinema

Chanelle Harley
Keywords: African American culture, American History, cinema, community, film, History

The Ongoing Black Freedom Struggle: Expanding the Single Story of the Civil Rights Movement

Pearl Jonas
Keywords: American History, Civil Rights Movement, film, History

Still Segregated in 2020: A Study of Equity in Philadelphia Area Schools through Film Study and Creation

Katherine Steiner
Keywords: cinema, civics, Civil Rights Movement, communications, freedom, Government, History, Media, Philadelphia, Politics

Film as a Medium for Teaching the Supporting Characters of the Civil Rights Movement

Frances M. Wilkins
Keywords: Civil Rights Movement, English language learners, film

Lasting Effects of Slavery

Victor M. Pomales Jr.
Keywords: African American History, film, Slavery, social studies

Civil Rights Movement vs. Black Lives Matter: Young People at the Helm of the Movement

Tasha Russell
Keywords: African American History month, Black Lives Matter, Civil Rights Movement, injustice