Children on the March
"Our most important task as a nation is to make sure all our young people can achieve their dreams." - Barack Obama
Imagine seeing thousands of children marching down your street singing "we shall overcome" while protesting against inequity and injustice. This is exactly what happened in Birmingham, Alabama on May 2, 1963. Today at Camp Kinda, you will learn about the powerful role young people played during the American Civil Rights Movement. You will then get the opportunity to think about what issues you see within your own community and how you can begin your journey as a change-maker.
what you’ll need
- A computer, tablet, or mobile phone and access to the internet
- Pens, crayons, markers, or colored pencils
- Construction paper
- Glue or tape
- Poster board
- A small stick of wood or dowel (optional)
Ask About Today
What was the Children’s Crusade? What were the young people who participated protesting for?
What issue needs a children's crusade today?
Skip the Ads
Unfortunately, online videos often start with short advertisements. Remind your campers to click the "Skip" button as soon as they can to move ahead to the video.
Crash Course on the Civil Rights Movement
The American Civil Rights Movement saw millions of people across the United States came together in pursuit of a more equitable society. Before we can learn about the role of the Children’s Crusade in this movement, we need to understand what the Civil Rights Movement was and why it started.
Remember: Online videos often start with advertisements. (Annoying, we agree!) Click the "Skip" button as soon as you can to move ahead to the video.
The Children's Crusade
During the 1960s, it wasn’t just adults like Martin Luther King, Jr. leading the fight against racial injustice—children were also active participants in this movement. In 1963, thousands of young people in Birmingham, Alabama participated in a nonviolent demonstration known as the "Children’s Crusade." As you watch, think about why young people chose to participate despite the risk. Why did the Children’s Crusade play such an important role in the Civil Rights Movement?
Content Warning: This video's documentary footage from the civil rights movement includes some graphic images. Younger or more sensitive campers may want to skip it.
Ayanna Najuma and the Oklahoma Sit-Ins
When civil rights activist Ayanna Najuma was just seven years old, she and other kids organized sit-ins and other actions to protest segregation in Oklahoma City. Hear her tell the story in her own words in this video from Scholastic.
Teens Take the Lead
The fight against racial injustice did not end with the Civil Rights Movement. The Black Lives Matter movement continues this fight today. Even now, young people continue to play an important role in advocating for change. In this video, learn about six teenage girls who organized a massive non-violent Black Lives Matter protest in Nashville, Tennessee.
It's time to start creating your campaign. What banner will you march behind?
Review Your Survey Results
First, look over your survey results. What patterns do you see? What issues were referenced the most? Does anything in the results surprise you? Why?
Next, think about your stance on this issue and how the information from your survey affects your thinking. For example, did you learn that others see things the way you do, or do they see things differently? How would this affect your next steps? What needs to change in order for this issue to be addressed?
For example, if your survey was about cleaning up your neighborhood and most people also see the same problem, you might be able to focus on what actions people need to take to reduce litter. On the other hand, if you find out that others see things differently than you, you might need to start by helping people understand the problem better.
Create Your Slogan!
Now it's time to create your slogan — a compelling phrase or statement that helps communicate your stance to a wider audience. The movement against racial injustice today uses the the phrase “Black Lives Matter” to make their message clear and unify supporters. What phrase or statement could you use to make your stance clear?
Once you have thought of a slogan to communicate your stance, you will design and make your own protest sign so that you and your followers can promote your message! Check out this “how to” guide to get started!
Pro tip: Short, simple slogans work best! Can you capture the change you want to see in just a few words?
For younger explorers
Make a Protest Sign
Audrey Faye Hendricks and thousands of children took to the streets of Birmingham to march and protest for what they believed in. They showed the world that you are never too young to stand up for justice. Today, you will create your own protest sign with a message that you believe in. Check out this website to see how to make a protest sign like you saw in the book The Youngest Marcher. You'll need construction paper, markers, a ruler or stick, and some tape.
The Children of Birmingham
Read this article about the experiences of various participants of the Children’s Crusade. Learn about why they chose to participate and what consequences they faced for doing so.
For younger explorers
Let the Children March
Visit Birmingham, Alabama in 1963 with the story Let The Children March.
For younger explorers
The Youngest Marcher
Hear the story of Audrey Faye Hendricks, a young civil rights activist, in The Youngest Marcher.
Win the White House
Are you ready to take the lead? Play this game from BrainPop to choose issues that matter to you, unlock your campaign slogan, and eventually Win the White House!
Movement for Your Movement
Marches are not the only form of protest. Activism through dance is another powerful tool you can use to spread your message of change. Today, your job is to choreograph a short, 1-minute dance that you could perform to raise awareness about the issue you chose to focus on for this week.
Need to see an example? Check out this performance by the Northwest Tap Connection.
more to explore
On the March with Mami Chambers
Want to hear more from participants of the Children’s Crusade? Check out this interview from Mami Chambers, who was 22 years old when she marched in the Children’s Crusade protest in 1963.
Content warning: In quoting what she and other children were called during this time, Mamie uses the “N” word once in this video (2:53-2:55).
More on the Civil Rights Movement
Curious to learn more about the Civil Rights Movement? Check out the PBS series Eyes on the Prize. You can stream a collection of videos for free on this page (scroll to the bottom).