Women Make History: An Untold Story of the Civil Rights Movement



One of the least recognized stories of the Civil Rights Movement is the role of women. This is true despite the fact that women were responsible for many of the achievements of the Movement. They developed strategies, marched in demonstrations, attended mass meetings, registered voters, taught in freedom schools, wrote searing critiques of societal structures, organized boycotts, and risked their lives. What’s more, the participation of women crossed racial and ethnic lines. Unfortunately, in the more traditional narrative of history, women’s work in the Civil Rights Movement is reduced to the icon of one or two women at best.

Women Make History presents the important and extensive role of women in social justice movements. In this 45- to 90-minute lesson, participants take on the identity of one activist and interview at least six more. This lesson has been used successfully in middle and high school classes and in teacher workshops.

Here is the lesson.

List of women featured in the lesson.

Ella Baker

Daisy Lee Bates

Gwendolyn Brooks

Elaine Brown

Shirley Chisholm

Septima Clark

Daisy Bates

Jessie de la Cruz

Angela Y. Davis

Virginia Foster Durr

Fannie Lou Hamer

Lorraine Hansberry

Dorothy Height

Dolores Huerta

Yuri Kochiyama

Audre Lorde

Las Madres de Plaza de Mayo

Winona LaDuke

Viola Liuzzo

Wangari Maathai

Rigoberta Menchu Tum

Wilma Mankiller

Joan Trumpauer Mulholland

Pauli Murray

Diane Nash

Antonia Pantoja

Gloria Richardson

Judy Richardson

Jo Ann Robinson

Arundhati Roy

Vandana Shiva

Barbara Smith

Ruby Doris Smith-Robinson

Emma Tenayuca

Ingrid Washinawatok

Merle Woo

Dorothy Zellner