Protest Movements of the 1960s

Resource Type: Investigate Activity | Time Period: A Nation in Upheaval, 1954-1975
Educator Guide | Investigate Activity
ABC-CLIO Database: American History
Time Period: A Nation in Upheaval, 1954-1975
Topic: Culture of Protest
Skill: Classify
Process: Compare and Contrast
Inquiry Question: What similarities and differences do social movements of the 1960s share?

Objectives: Students will use the sources provided to classify and compare various social movements during the 1960s.

What students will discover in the sources: The video on students and the anti-war movement describes the student-led antiwar movement at colleges and universities across the United States in the 1960s. The image related to the Vietnam Moratorium shows peace activists at their headquarters in preparation for the Moratorium to End the War in Vietnam, which was held on October 15, 1969, at the Washington Monument in Washington, D.C. The reference article on the free speech movement explains the historical background of the movement in the 1960s, as well as why students were drawn to this movement. The image of student activists shows a demonstration at Berkeley protesting the lack of free speech on campus and arrest of an activist. The reference article on the women's liberation movement discusses the second wave of the women's liberation movement. The image of the Miss America protest shows women protesting the 1968 Miss America pageant. Together, these sources give background to the various social movements of the 1960s and illustrate some of their goals.

From the American History Database

"Congress to Unite Women,"

A flyer advertising the second Congress to Unite Women, a gathering of women's groups held in New York City in 1970.

"Kent State Shootings [:12],"

Footage shows the aftermath of the Kent State shootings, May 4, 1970.

"Mario Savio: an End to History Speech (1964),"

Student activist Mario Savio delivered this speech in December 1964 on the University of California, Berkeley campus as he spearheaded the massive sit-in.

"Rally Poster Commemorating Kent State,"

Poster announcing a May 5, 1970 strike and march to protest the recent shootings of antiwar and antiracism protesters at Kent State University.

"Sit-Down Demonstration,"

Image of anti-protesters pouring sugar, ketchup, and mustard on the heads of sit-down demonstrators at a restaurant lunch counter in Jackson, Mississippi on June 12, 1963.

"Students for a Democratic Society: Port Huron Statement (1962),"

Written in June 1962, this is the text of the Port Huron Statement, the founding doctrine of the Students for a Democratic Society.

"Vietnam War Protest,"

Image of demonstrators marching down the street during a protest of the Vietnam War in New York City, 1968.

Professional Resources

"Culture of Protest," Research List, American History Educator Support,

This research list is a collection of articles, images, and terms relevant to the study of the social movements that were prevalent during the 1960s.

"Sisterhood is Powerful," Research List, American History Educator Support,

This classroom-ready research list is a collection of articles, audio, and documents relevant to the study of the women's liberation movement.

"Revolution '67, Lesson 1: Protest: Why and How," EDSITEment!, National Endowment for the Humanities,

Lesson plan with guiding question, timeline, and background materials for context on the protests of 1967.

"The Sixties, 1960-1969," American History Educator Support,

Teaching tips, time period key understanding, key questions, and classroom activities covering the women's rights movement and the 1960s protest culture and counterculture movement.

Reference Books

Larocco, Christina G. The Women's Rights Movement since 1945: A Reference Guide. Santa Barbara, CA: ABC-CLIO, 2020.

Documenting the history of the American women's rights movement from 1945 through the 2016 election, this reference offers a crucial and objective look at the changing strategies, goals, and challenges of American feminists.

Phull, Hardeep. Story Behind the Protest Song: A Reference Guide to the 50 Songs That Changed the 20th Century. Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 2008.

Features 50 of the most influential musical protests and statements recorded to date, providing pop-culture viewpoints on some of the most tumultuous times in modern history, including the Vietnam War, the civil rights movement, and more.

Willis, Jim. Daily Life in the 1960s Counterculture. Santa Barbara, CA: Greenwood, an imprint of ABC-CLIO, 2019.

This book looks at daily life during a pivotal decade in American history, the 1960s, covering the Vietnam War and the civil rights movement as well as counterculture and protest movements.

Nonfiction for Students (6-12)

Aronson, Marc, and Susan C. Bartoletti, eds. 1968: Today's Authors Explore a Year of Rebellion, Revolution, and Change. Somerville, MA: Candlewick Press, 2018.

To capture the events of 1968, the editors create an anthology of nonfiction exploring such milestones as the war in Vietnam and the assassinations of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and Robert F. Kennedy and the many facets of the worldwide demonstrations of that tumultuous year.

Anderson, Jennifer J. Women's Rights Movement. Minneapolis, MN: ABDO Publishing Company, 2014.

A good companion to middle school social studies and history courses, this series is filled with colorful pages and attention-grabbing text boxes. "Voices of the Movement" pages appear throughout and provide quotes from the key influencers of the time.

Lüsted, Marcia A, and Gerald J. Thain. Tinker Vs. Des Moines: The Right to Protest in Schools. Minneapolis, MN: ABDO Publishing Company, 2013.

Discusses the history of the landmark Supreme Court case Tinker v. Des Moines, in which the Supreme Court ruled that students have the right to protest in school.

Literature & Film for Students

Crowe, Chris. Death Coming Up the Hill. New York: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2014.

A novel written in haiku tells the story of 17-year-old Douglas Ashe during 1968, the year he turns 17, the Vietnam War is escalating, and the world is filled with assassinations, racism, and rioting.

Moore, Honor, ed. Poems from the Women's Movement. New York: Library of America, 2009.

A volume of curated works representing definitive modes of thought during the women's movement of the 1960s, 1970s, and 1980s. Includes pieces by such writers as Adrienne Rich, Muriel Rukeyeser, and Judy Grahn.

Washington, Rhonnie L, and Connie Field. Freedom on My Mind. San Francisco, CA: California Newsreel, 2006. DVD.

Documentary of the civil rights movement and the events surrounding the Mississippi Voter Registration Project of the early 1960s. Combines archival footage with contemporary interviews.

Wiles, Deborah. Kent State. New York: Scholastic, 2020.

This novel in verse brings the voices of the tragic Kent State shootings through multiple perspectives to illuminate the moment to moment events of May 4, 1970, on the Kent State University campus.

Literature & Film for Educators

Cohen, Robert, Reginald E. Zelnik, and Mario Savio. The Free Speech Movement: Reflections on Berkeley in the 1960s. Berkeley: University of California Press, 2002.

An examination of Berkeley's celebrated Free Speech Movement (FSM) of 1964. Drawing from the experiences of many movement veterans, this collection of scholarly articles and personal memoirs illuminates one of the most important events in the recent history of American higher education.

Morgen, Brett. Chicago 10. Hollywood, CA: Paramount Home Entertainment, 2008. DVD.

This animated documentary chronicles the anti-war protest of the 1968 Democratic National Convention held in Chicago, and the story of the protest organizers brought to trial by the city.

Roth, Philip. American Pastoral. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1997.

This novel explores the tragic impact of the Vietnam War on a relationship between father and daughter. The father believes in the American Dream, but his daughter believes in a different dream, to get America out of Vietnam, and she goes to extreme ends to get her point across.

Thomas, Gillian. Because of Sex: One Law, Ten Cases, and Fifty Years That Changed American Women's Lives at Work. New York: St. Martin's Press, 2016.

The 1964 Civil Rights Act revolutionized the lives of American women with its Title VII, which made it illegal to discriminate "because of sex." Because Of Sex tells that story through the voices, lives, and work of the women directly involved in the women's movement during this time.

Websites & Mobile Apps

Politics and Protest, Smithsonian Music,

Archive collection of folk music playlists and music-related posters and images of the 1960s protests, including the civil rights movement, environmental movement, and anti-war demonstrations.

"Protesting in the 1960s and 1970s," in Speaking and Protesting in America, American Archive of Public Broadcasting,

Multi-media online exhibit presenting public radio and television content including radio programs, local news, raw footage, and interviews that explores the role of dissent in American life during the 1960s and 1970s, from peaceful marches to acts of civil disobedience.

MLA Citation

"Investigate: Protest Movements of the 1960s." ABC-CLIO Solutions, ABC-CLIO, 2020, Accessed 1 June 2020.