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Presidential Primary Sources Project - 2015

2015 - Human and Civil Rights

Explore, through the extensive use of primary source documents, how various presidential administrations have influenced and shaped the human and civil rights issues of their day.


Star Spangled Banner: Living Flag Distance Learning Program


Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Learn about the history of the Battle of Baltimore during the War of 1812 and what inspired Francis Scott Key to pen “The Star-Spangled Banner.”


President Truman and Civil Rights


Harry S. Truman Library and Museum, Independence, MO
Wednesday, February 4, 2015

President Truman served in the military during World War I. Truman’s experience as a soldier gave him respect for soldiers. He was outraged when he heard African American World War II veterans were being mistreated shortly after coming back home in 1945 and 1946, especially in the southern states. This presentation will examine primary sources from the Harry S. Truman Library and Museum and evaluate Truman’s response to the mistreatment of African American veterans.


Franklin D. Roosevelt and Civil Rights


Franklin D. Roosevelt Presidential Library and Museum, Hyde Park, N
Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Despite overwhelming support from the African American electorate, FDR's fear of losing the support of long-serving southern Democrats in Congress kept him from becoming a champion of civil rights. This session will explore the Roosevelt record on race by highlighting three specific events: Mrs. Roosevelt’s 1939 resignation from the Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR); Executive Order 8802, which ended discrimination in the defense industries; and the creation of the all-black 99th Pursuit Squadron, the “Tuskegee Airmen.”


Jimmy Carter: Champion for Human Rights


The Jimmy Carter National Historic Site, Plains, GA
Thursday, March 5, 2015

Students will explore how growing up in a small, rural, culturally diverse community in Southwest Georgia during the Great Depression helped shape the life, character, values and ultimately the political policies of Jimmy Carter, 39th President of the United States and Nobel Peace Prize winner. President Carter has been an untiring champion of human rights, and through the use of photographs, oral history and documents in the museum’s collection, students will draw conclusions of how they, too, can make a difference locally, nationally, and internationally.


Live from the Lincoln Memorial: On the 150th Anniversary of Lincoln's Second Inaugural Address


National Mall, Washington, D.C.
Tuesday, March 10, 2015

In honor of the 150th anniversary of Lincoln's Second Inauguration, we would like students to use Lincoln's Second Inaugural Address as a starting point for a conversation about Lincoln's views and what he hoped for the country with the ending of the Civil War. We hope to use this speech as a way to begin looking at the legacy of Lincoln and his memorial, and what the memorial has meant through the years in the context of civil rights.


Ulysses S. Grant: A President Committed to Civil Rights


Ulysses S. Grant National Historic Site, St. Louis, MO
Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Examine President Ulysses S. Grant’s actions relative to the rights of the newly freed African-Americans. Topics discussed will include his support for the 15th Amendment and use of federal troops to quell the Ku Klux Klan in the South.


Segregation and a Controversial Tea Party at the White House


Herbert Hoover Presidential Library and The White House Historical Association
Friday, March 13, 2015

In 1929, First Lady Lou Hoover invited Jessie DePriest, wife of African American Congressmen Oscar DePriest, to a White House tea party. The political and social ramifications were intense - some letters even called for the lynching and impeachment of the First Lady. This program will discuss segregation and the political ramifications of the DePriest tea. The program will draw from Herbert and Lou Hoover’s papers, letters from the public, oral history interviews, memoirs from White House staff, newspapers, and political cartoons.


Woodrow Wilson and the League of Nations


President Woodrow Wilson House, Washington, D.C.
Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Woodrow Wilson served as our 28th President from 1913 to 1921, a time of great challenges and changes regarding civil and human rights. President Wilson received the Nobel Peace Prize for his leadership in establishing the League of Nations at the end of World War I. The establishment of the League of Nations laid the foundation for the modern vision of global human rights. However, The League of Nations generated controversy. After a great national debate, ultimately the United States decided not to join the League. Only after World War II was the United States persuaded to join the United Nations, the successor to the League of Nations.

The Wilson era saw many other events that affected civil and human rights, including the growth of the American labor movement, the institutionalization of racial segregation, the “Great Migration" of agricultural workers from the South to Northern cities, the restriction of civil rights during WWI, and the assimilation of a large and varied immigrant population. In his time, President Wilson framed many of the questions about civil and human rights that our nation continues to address today.


Abraham Lincoln: "Naturally Anti-Slavery"


Abraham Lincoln Birthplace National Historic Park, Hodgenville, KY 
Thursday, March 26, 2015

Learn how Abraham Lincoln’s lifelong view of slavery was shaped by his Kentucky roots. The presentation will include primary sources and interactive activities to explore Lincoln’s enduring legacy as the “Great Emancipator.”


Surrender at Appomattox Court House: A New Birth of Freedom


Appomattox Court House National Historic Park, Appomattox County, VA

This Ranger-facilitated program gives an overview of the Appomattox campaign and provides virtual visitors the chance to hear multiple points of view. Living history participants portraying free and enslaved African-Americans, Union and Confederate soldiers, and civilians from the town give special presentations as students from across America ask questions.