Engage & Learn

The March on Washington

“The simple truth is that the troubles we face as a society – violence, racism, class inequities, poverty – will never be solved by remaining silent.” – Willa J. Taylor on Race by David Mamet

In many ways, this statement influences the work we do in theatre. By building dialogue around issues and injustices in America, plays such as this season’s By the Way, Meet Vera Stark, Teddy Ferrara, and Black and Blue Boys/Broken Men have provided fresh insights for audiences here at the Goodman. In the 1960s, this same sentiment was the driving force of the civil rights movement. In honor of this year’s 50th Anniversary of the March on Washington, we’ve compiled a list of study materials around the civil rights movement and the events of 1963. Check back periodically for updates and additional resources.


Change in America: a timeline of the civil rights movement by Cat Crowder

Originally compiled for the Magnolia study guide, this timeline spans the early kindlings of the movement, the years 1950-1960, and a few more recent developments.

We’ve Got a Movement: the struggle for justice in Birmingham by Tanya Palmer

Originally published in a study guide for The Good Negro by Tracey Scott Wilson, this article documents the events of the civil rights movement – and how it became a movement – in Birmingham, AL and Albany, GA, led by key figures such as Rev. Fred Shuttlesworth, Wyatt Tee Walker, Ralph Abernathy, and Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Youth Activism and the Movement by Willa J. Taylor

Students and young people today are some of the most politically active citizens in America. This article considers how young activists were integral to the civil rights movement—and how they are important in leading the fight against injustices to this day.

The Black Church’s Role in Civil Rights by Neena Arndt

This article explains how civil rights leaders at times used biblical rhetoric to gain support for the movement. As Neena explains, “Although success of the civil rights movement cannot be attributed to a single factor, the black church certainly mobilized many thousands of black activists and protesters—without whom the movement might have ultimately failed.”

The Black Press’ Influence on Civil Rights

Before the murder of Emmett Till in 1955, lynchings were only front-page news—or news at all—in the Black Press, in newspapers such as the Chicago Defender. Stories about African Americans only appeared in the mainstream press if they had committed a crime. This article honors the legacy of key Black Press publications, while considering how Emmett’s story prepared America for the mainstream press to cover sit-ins and bus boycotts of the Civil Rights Movement.

Often overlooked in Civil Rights leaders, Bayard Rustin was a driving force in the organization of the 1963 March on Washington. Using the methods of Gandhi and pacifism, Rustin made a huge impact on the movement. Rustin dedicated his entire life to activism but was opposed by many because of his beliefs and sexuality.
A Christmas Carol

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From Page to Stage

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Black n Blue Boys/Broken Men

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Teddy Ferrara

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Measure for Measure

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By the Way, Meet Vera Stark

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Bayard Rustin speaking to a crowd in 1965. Photo by Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division (via Wikimedia Commons)
The March on Washington

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Momma’s Boyz

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