The Children's March: Viewing the Film

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Objectives: 

  • Students will understand political movements involve children as well as adults.
  • Students will understand children of all ages have the power to make a difference in the world.

Materials Needed: 

  • Copy of The Children’s March film
  • Film guide handouts for each student (Make your
    own based on the questions below or download the PDF)

Question and answer activity based on "The Children's March." (Download the Teacher's Guide here.)


Framework
The following questions are in the same order as the film. Students can fill them out as they watch the film or use them as a discussion guide following the film. Or students can complete them individually as a homework assignment, or in small groups after viewing the film. Pull out selected questions for general whole-group discussion. Make as many connections as possible to students’ local communities and lives.

These questions are given as a guide. (Download the answers.)

1. What was Birmingham’s nickname and why?
2. Have you ever seen a white tank anywhere before? What might a white tank symbolize to white people? What might it symbolize to black people?
3. The film states, “Under Bull Connor, Birmingham was the closest thing in America to a police state.” What is a police state?
4. Why couldn’t the parents or adults protest? What would happen to them if they did protest?
5. What does it mean to “meet violence with nonviolence”? What would it look like?
6. Dr. King said in a strategy session that “the only way we’re going to break Birmingham is to fill the jails.” What do you think a strategy session is? Why is it important?
7. Why do you think that Dr. King said “no,” at first, to kids going to jail?
8. Shelley “The Playboy” told the kids that “there’s going to be a party in the park today.” What did he mean?
9. What did the children’s teacher, Mrs. Goree, do to help them go to the march?
10. Kelly Ingram Park was the big green buffer between black Birmingham and the white downtown. Do buffers exist between groups in your community?
11. Gwen Webb says, “A lot of people thought the kids were going to get hurt, but the reality was that we were born black in Alabama and we were going to get hurt if we didn’t do something.” What did she mean by this?
12. The children left the church in “waves of 50.” How is that a strategy? What do you think it accomplished?
13. The police thought the kids would be frightened to be arrested. Instead, they were happy and singing. Why do you think the kids were full of joy to be arrested?
14. Why were the kids told to say that they were 15 years old when they were arrested? Did it work?
15. How many men did it take to hold the fire hoses steady?
16. There were 10 kids still standing after everyone else had been knocked down or dispersed by the fire hoses. What were they singing?
17. What did President Kennedy think of the photographs he saw of children being hosed on the second day of the march?
18. What were the conditions in the jails? Were they clean? What did the children get to eat? How long were they kept in jail?
19. What did the kids do in jail?
20. How old was the youngest child who got arrested and put in jail?
21. Dr. King told the parents, “Don’t worry about your children. They are going to be all right. Don’t hold them back if they want to go to jail for they are doing a job for all of America and for all mankind.” What job were they doing?
22. The white detective said that in the end there “was no way to hold a lid on this because the fear was gone.” What is significant about people losing fear?
23. On May 10th Dr. King said that “we have come today to the climax of the long struggle for justice and human dignity.” Had they?
24. On June 11th President Kennedy said “This is the end of segregation.” Was it?

Extension Activity: 

Find out more about prominent people who are mentioned in the film:

  • Gov. George Wallace, governor of Alabama
  • Eugene “Bull” Connor, commissioner of public safety
  • Rev. Andrew Young, movement leader
  • Carolyn McKinstry
  • Rev. Ralph Abernathy
  • Rev. Fred Shuttlesworth
  • Rev. James Bevel
  • Shelley “the Playboy” Stewart
  • Dick Gregory