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Created Equal: Films, lesson plans, powerful conversations

created equal

Created Equal: America’s Civil Rights Struggle brings four outstanding films on the long civil rights movement to communities across the United States. As part of the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH)’s Bridging Cultures initiative, Created Equal will encourage communities across the country to revisit the history of civil rights in America and to reflect on the ideals of freedom and equality that have helped bridge deep racial and cultural divides in our civic life. Four outstanding documentary films, spanning the period from the 1830s to the 1960s, are the centerpiece for this project. Each of these films was supported by NEH, and each tells remarkable stories of individuals who challenged the social and legal status quo of deeply rooted institutions, from slavery to segregation.

These four films illustrate the majesty of the civil rights movement: Millions of ordinary brave Americans rose up, said ‘no more,’ and changed the nation forever.
Gwen Ifill

As the Created Equal films have been viewed, they have begun a conversation. In public libraries, in school classrooms and churches across the nation, on Twitter, blogs and Facebook pages, people of all ages, different races and walks of life have been moved to continue talking about the themes raised by the films. Many are inspired; some are outraged. Often, viewers are left are pondering what it takes to achieve real change in a democracy, what can be learned from the struggles of those who went before us, and how to connect their own lives and experiences to this powerful history of heroism and struggle.

The Created Equal project extends and deepens those discussions, offering scholarly resources and program guides to help Americans to reflect on the legacy and meaning of our shared civil rights history.

Created Equal films will be featured in screenings, discussions, and other public programs in 500 communities across the nation from September 2013 through December 2016. The Gilder Lehrman Institute, which has a track record of working with public and academic libraries on public programs in American history, has developed program resources for the sites that will host film programs. (These are also useful for classroom use.)

(Slavery by Another Name and Freedom Riders can be viewed in their entirety on the Created Equal site. You can view portions of The Loving Story and The Abolitionists on the site.)

Click here to find a Created Equal film program at a museum, library, or community organization near you.

Click here to access teacher materials.

Click here to access information and teaching  materials on the companion exhibition from the Smithsonian – Changing America: Emancipation Proclamation and the March of Washington.

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