Reflecting on Rights

Reflecting on Rights

Using MapMaker Interactive, explore how the population distribution of African Americans in 1960 reflected historical patterns of slavery and was entwined with the civil rights movement.


5 - 8


Social Studies, Civics, U.S. History

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Idea for Use in the Classroom

Begin by having students open MapMaker and turn on the African-American Population layer to explore African-American population density patterns across the United States in 1960. Then review how the U.S. Civil War divided the country, beginning with the secession of South Carolina in December 1860. Over the next six months, 10 other slave-holding states joined the new Confederate States of America: Mississippi, Florida, Alabama, Georgia, Louisiana, Texas, Virginia, Arkansas, Tennessee, and North Carolina. West Virginia gained statehood in June 1863 after many residents of western Virginia opposed Virginia's secession from the Union. Prompt students to use this information to identify the division between North and South in the Civil War on the map. Then, discuss how this map reflects historical patterns of slavery and the geographical divide of the Civil War. Have students suggest why the population of African Americans had not become more evenly distributed by 1960.

During the Civil Rights Movement of the 1950s and 1960s, many defining moments occurred in the South, such as the arrest of Rosa Parks, the Little Rock Nine attending Central High School, and the Freedom Rides of 1961. Using the map, have students brainstorm how the distribution of African Americans may have influenced, and been affected by, the Civil Rights Movement. Have students locate specific areas where famous incidents occurred to identify population patterns that may exist. For example, did the events occur in or near more densely populated areas? Finally, have students predict how populations may have changed since 1960 based on the outcomes of the civil rights movement.

Media Credits

The audio, illustrations, photos, and videos are credited beneath the media asset, except for promotional images, which generally link to another page that contains the media credit. The Rights Holder for media is the person or group credited.

Tyson Brown, National Geographic Society
National Geographic Society
Production Managers
Gina Borgia, National Geographic Society
Jeanna Sullivan, National Geographic Society
Program Specialists
Sarah Appleton, National Geographic Society, National Geographic Society
Margot Willis, National Geographic Society
Last Updated

April 23, 2024

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