Teacher Guides

Teacher Guide: The Civil Rights Movement and the First Amendment: How Free Expression Freedoms Developed During the Struggle for Equality

Civil rights leaders, including Martin Luther King Jr.
Civil rights leaders, including Martin Luther King Jr. (3rd from R front row) and John Lewis (4th from L front row), talk with reporters after meeting with President John F. Kennedy after the March on Washington in Washington, U.S., August 28, 1963. Library of Congress/Warren K. Leffler/Handout via REUTERS

The civil rights movement of the 1950s and 1960s not only led to significant legislative change and social progress, but it also served as a catalyst for the expansion of First Amendment freedoms. This teacher’s guide recounts many of the First Amendment developments ushered in during this new era of commitment to civil rights and equality. These include constitutionalizing libel law, protecting peaceful protesting, acknowledging new forms of symbolic speech, recognizing the freedom of association, and limiting the ways in which licensing laws can be used to censor speech.

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