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Category: civil rights
  • Dorothy Height was the "the only woman at the highest level of the Civil Rights Movement," though her contributions are largely unknown today.

    When Dorothy Height showed up at Barnard College in 1929 with her admission letter in hand, she was told by a college dean that they had already reached their quota of "two Negro students per year." Height, who had just graduated with honors from an integrated high school in Rankin, Pennsylvania, says that she was crushed, recalling, “I couldn’t eat, I couldn’t sleep for days." Unwilling to defer her dreams, she visited New York University with her Barnard acceptance letter and they admitted her on the spot. It was this determination that would drive Height through the following decades as she became, as President Barack Obama observed, "the only woman at the highest level of the Civil Rights Movement — witnessing every march and milestone along the way." Continue reading Continue reading

  • A Mighty Girl's top 40 books for children and teens about heroic girls and women who fought for justice during the Civil Rights Movement.

    From the Montgomery Bus Boycott, the Greensboro sit-ins, the Freedom Rides, school integrations, the March on Washington, Freedom Summer, the Selma to Montgomery marches, we hear many stories about the pivotal events of the Civil Rights Movement, but so many are about the remarkable men in leadership positions at the time. But what of the women? What of the girls? Rosa Parks’ story is a powerful and important one, but surely hers can’t be the only story of courageous girls and women in the Civil Rights era.

    In this post, we highlight numerous books for both children and teens that tell the stories of girls and women's contributions to the monumental events of this period and to the national movement to bring full civil rights and equality under the law to all Americans. By sharing these stories of past champions of civil rights, we can inspire the current generation of Mighty Girls to be the champions of the future. Continue reading Continue reading

  • A Mighty Girl's top picks of books for children and teens about real-life girls and women who fought for a more just, equal, and peaceful world.

    When people think about what it means to love their country, some assume patriotism requires unwavering support, and that questioning or disagreeing with their government's choices is unpatriotic, disruptive, and even dangerous. But the truth is that dissent makes countries stronger: when citizens demand the best from their leaders and their countries — justice, accountability in government, and equal rights for all — everyone benefits. In fact, throughout history, progress for every country has come from people's willingness to stand up for what they believe in and insist on being heard, even if their beliefs counter those of the people in power. In other words, dissent isn't distracting or divisive: it's patriotic!

    To explore this topic with children and teens, we've showcased 40 of our favorite books about girls and women who resisted —  who dared to stand up against the laws and social norms of their day to fight for societies that were more just, tolerant, and equal. These people, from all walks of life, fought hard for causes they believed in, including women's suffrage, labor rights, civil rights, environmental protection, and more. They argued, they disagreed, and they protested — and today, we hail them as heroes whose courage and determination led to positive change and helped create a better future for everyone. Continue reading Continue reading

  • By Katherine Handcock, A Mighty Girl Communications Specialist

    51v4jk66mtl_1_[1]It can be hard for young people today to understand the obstacles and hardship faced by the activists of the Civil Rights Movement. The idea that a black child might have to be escorted into school by federal marshals, or that a white ally of the movement might spend months in jail for riding side by side with her friends on a bus, is entirely foreign to most kids.

    While there are many great books about the Civil Rights Movement to share, a well-crafted movie on the topic is a highly effective way of capturing the reality of civil rights struggles. As part of our celebration of Black History Month, we're showcasing our favorite films about the girls and women of the Civil Rights Movement. These stories will captivate and inspire your Mighty Girl, and remind her that, if you truly believe in something, it’s important to make a stand.

    Selma, Lord, Selma directed by Charles Burnett (age 8 and up)

    Sheyann Webb is a 12 year old girl in Selma, Alabama, whose life is changed when she hears Dr. Martin Luther King speak. She vows to do whatever she can to support Dr. King and his cause, and to resist the racism and degradation she now sees all around her. But as the historic march from Selma to Montgomery approaches, and the threats of violence increase, Sheyann has to decide if she dares to stand shoulder-to-shoulder with the others in the march. This inspiring film captures the fear and danger that civil rights supporters faces, without becoming too graphic for younger Mighty Girls. Continue reading Continue reading

  • marian2By Lili Sandler, A Mighty Girl Senior Research Intern

    On this day in Mighty Girl history, acclaimed singer and civil rights pioneer Marian Anderson was born in Philadelphia in 1897. Her musical talent was evident from a young age, and her parents did everything they could to encourage her musical pursuits. Anderson was only 6 when she began performing with the Union Baptist Church, where she was often referred to as “baby contralto”.

    Her family was unable to afford piano lessons, so little Marian taught herself to play starting at the age of 8. Dedicated to her church choir, she would rehearse all of the parts to the every song, performing them for her family until they were just right. Her community was so impressed with her commitment that they raised enough money to pay for private lessons with a well-known vocal instructor. Continue reading Continue reading

  • rosa stamp Image Credit: U.S. Postal Service

    On this day in Mighty Girl history, we remember Rosa Parks who was commemorated on this stamp released today on what would have been her 100th birthday. Dubbed “the first lady of Civil Rights” and “the mother of the freedom movement” by the United States Congress, Parks is most often remembered for her refusal to give up her seat on a bus to a white passenger in Montgomery, Alabama in December of 1955. This act of courage and defiance sparked the Montgomery Bus Boycott, one of the pivotal events in the US Civil Rights Movement.

    This was not her first, nor would it be her last, contribution to the Civil Rights Movement. In fact, she had been a member and the secretary of the Montgomery chapter of the NAACP for 12 years prior to the bus boycott. She also attended the Highlander Folk School, a social justice leadership training school, the summer before refusing to give up her bus seat.

    Parks and her husband moved to Michigan shortly after the bus boycott as a result of losing their jobs. There, Parks was hired as receptionist for U.S. Representative John Conyers Detroit office, where she worked until she retired in 1988. Rosa Parks received many awards and accolades in her life, most notably the Presidential Medal of Freedom and the Congressional Gold Medal. Continue reading Continue reading

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