Land of Freedom: Civil Rights Movement in East Alabama

In this high-school, classroom-level grant, students researched the history of the fight for civil rights in their region and shared their findings with their community.


Inspired by a public history project focused on veterans, this grant envisions a new public history project to highlight the impact of activism on the local community. It uses the book Cradle of Freedom, written by Frye Gaillard, to provide students with a contextual understanding of Alabama during the time of the civil rights movement. 

Level: Classroom


Grade Level: 9–12 


Location: Auburn, Alabama


Students will: 

  • Collaboratively research the civil rights movement’s history in local community archives; 
  • Share their findings to construct a comprehensive historical narrative;
  • Design and construct a visual exhibition of their findings. 


Grantee Reflection

“[The project] shattered the myth that Brown v. Board of Education had the only immediate impact on the area. It allowed students to see the struggle [was] much greater than one court case—a struggle that different areas approached and coped with in different ways.” 



Interested? Here's how you can do this project in your classroom.


What You’ll Need

  • A class set of the book Cradle of Freedom 
  • Printed exhibit panels (approximately 8)



  1. Reading
    Students read Cradle of Freedom by Frye Gaillard and discuss the impact of the civil rights movement on their community. 
  2. Primary Research
    Students examine a specific aspect of the civil rights movement (such as school integration) and its impact on the local community. They conduct oral history interviews and explore local historical archives, school records and yearbooks.
  3. Field Work
    Students visit museums and memorials dedicated to the history of the civil rights movement. 
  4. Final Product
    Students design an exhibit sharing the history of local school districts and how they were impacted by the civil rights movement. Students consult with historians and art curators and pull from their own research and field work to develop their design. 
  5. Community Impact
    Students host a local exhibit at the public library or other local space to share their research. They invite their families, their school and the surrounding community.  


Related Resources

News Article

Auburn High School student Jake Evans speaks on Wednesday during a presentation of a class project at the Auburn Public Library.


Poster for "Land of Freedom," a research project by Auburn High School students.


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