Civil rights movement in popular culture
The 1954 to 1968 civil rights movement contributed strong cultural themes to American and international theater, song, film, television, and the visual arts. These depictions keep alive the ideals and deeds of the people who organized, supported, and participated in this nonviolent movement.
- Mississippi Burning (1988), about the 1964 murders of Chaney, Goodman, and Schwerner in Mississippi.
- Hairspray (1988, 2007 remake), features a major subplot about demonstrations against racial segregation in Baltimore, Maryland.
- The Long Walk Home (1990), portrays a woman who is boycotting city buses during the 1955-1956 Montgomery Bus Boycott.
- Malcolm X (1992), a biopic focused on the life and assassination of Malcolm X.
- Ghosts of Mississippi (1996), an account of the murder of Mississippi activist Medgar Evers and the subsequent investigation.
- The Chamber (1996)
- Selma, Lord, Selma (1999), follows the life of 11-year-old Sheyann Webb during the events leading up to the 1965 Selma to Montgomery march and its "Bloody Sunday".
- Our Friend, Martin (1999 animated)
- Boycott (2001), depicts some of the events of the 1955-56 Montgomery Bus Boycott.
- The Rosa Parks Story (2002), the life of the key figure in the Montgomery Bus Boycott.
- The Butler (2013), depicts a civil rights movement training session conducted during the Nashville Student Movement by James Lawson and other civil rights movement events.
- Selma (2014), focusing on the events leading up to, during, and after the 1965 Selma to Montgomery marches, including the 1965 Voting Rights Act.
- All the Way (2016), focusing on Lyndon B. Johnson's successful attempt to pass the Civil Rights Act of 1964.
- Crisis: Behind a Presidential Commitment (1963), first-hand as-it-happened account of the University of Alabama "Stand in the Schoolhouse Door" integration crisis of June 1963.
- Nine from Little Rock (1964), about the Little Rock Nine who enrolled in an all-white Arkansas high school in 1957.
- The March (1964), about the 1963 March on Washington, was made for the United States Information Agency.
- Louisiana Diary (1964) follows the Congress of Racial Equality (CORE) from July to August 1963, as they undertake an African American voter registration drive in Plaquemine, Louisiana.
- Cicero March (1966), details a civil rights march held by the Congress of Racial Equality on September 4, 1966 in Cicero, Illinois, soon after the 1966 Chicago open housing movement ended.
- King: A Filmed Record... Montgomery to Memphis (1970)
- Malcolm X (1972), based on The Autobiography of Malcolm X.
- Freedom on My Mind (1994), documents efforts to register African-American voters in Mississippi, Freedom Summer, and the formation of the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party.
- A Time for Justice (1994), a short history of the civil rights movement narrated by Julian Bond.
- 4 Little Girls (1997), focusing on the 1963 events surrounding the bombing of the 16th Street Baptist Church just after the Birmingham campaign.
- Mighty Times: The Legacy of Rosa Parks (2002), created with archival footage
- February One: The Story of the Greensboro Four (2003), documents the 1960 Greensboro lunch counter sit-ins and the four college students involved.
- The Murder of Emmett Till (2003) about the murder and the impact of Emmett Till's open-casket funeral.
- Brother Outsider (2003), about the life of civil rights organizer Bayard Rustin.
- Home of the Brave (2004), documents the life and murder of Viola Liuzzo.
- Mighty Times: The Children's March (2004) about the 1963 Birmingham campaign and its marches by schoolchildren.
- Dare Not Walk Alone (2006) focuses on the 1964 St. Augustine movement.
- Mississippi Cold Case (2007), chronicles the Ku Klux Klan murders of two young black men in Mississippi in 1964 during Freedom Summer, and the 21st-century quest for justice by the brother of one of those murdered.
- The Witness: From the Balcony of Room 306 (2008), details the events surrounding the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr. at the Lorraine Motel in Memphis, Tennessee.
- Neshoba (2008), chronicles the events and thinking in Neshoba County, Mississippi, 40 years after the 1964 murders of Chaney, Goodman, and Schwerner.
- Soundtrack for a Revolution (2009), focuses on some of the songs sung during the civil rights movement.
- Crossing in St. Augustine (2010), produced by Andrew Young, who participated in the civil rights movement in St. Augustine in 1964.
- The Barber of Birmingham (2011), about James Armstrong, a voting rights activist and an original flag bearer for the 1965 Selma to Montgomery marches.
- Alpha Man: The Brotherhood of MLK (2011), about King's fraternity.
- Julian Bond: Reflections from the Frontlines of the Civil Rights Movement (2012), on the life and thoughts of activist Julian Bond.
- The March (2013), documents the 1963 March on Washington and the "I Have a Dream" speech by King.
- Freedom Summer (2014), documents the events of the 1964 Mississippi Freedom Summer movement.
- Attack on Terror: The FBI vs. the Ku Klux Klan (1975) two-part television movie dramatizing the events following the 1964 disappearance and murder of three civil rights workers in Mississippi.
- King (1978 miniseries) about Southern Christian Leadership Conference chairman and movement spokesman, Martin Luther King Jr.
- Crisis at Central High (1981), made-for-television movie about the Little Rock Integration Crisis of 1957.
- For Us the Living: The Medgar Evers Story (1983), PBS biopic about assassinated Mississippi civil rights activist Medgar Evers, his work, and his family.
- Eyes on the Prize (1987-1990), a 14-hour documentary series chronicling the civil rights movement.
- My Past Is My Own (1989), a portrayal of students organizing an early 1960s civil rights movement sit-in.
- Murder in Mississippi (1990) movie following the last weeks of three civil rights workers, Michael "Mickey" Schwerner, Andrew Goodman and James Chaney, and the events leading up to their disappearance and subsequent murder during Freedom Summer.
- Separate But Equal (1991), depicts the landmark Supreme Court desegregation case Brown v. Board of Education, based on the phrase "Separate but equal".
- The Ernest Green Story (1993), film chronicling the true story of Ernest Green (Morris Chestnut) and eight other high-school students (dubbed the "Little Rock Nine") and the 1957 integration of Little Rock Central High School in Little Rock, Arkansas.
- George Wallace (1997), a film about George Wallace, the Alabama governor, and his involvement in many of the events of the era including the "Stand in the Schoolhouse Door".
- Ruby Bridges (1998), the true story of six-year-old Ruby Bridges who, in 1960, became the first black student to integrate an elementary school in the South.
- Any Day Now (1998-2002), series with a major subplot involving the Birmingham campaign.
- Freedom Song (2000), a film based on true stories of the civil rights movement in Mississippi, involving voting rights, Freedom Summer, and the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC).
- Sins of the Father (2002) chronicles the 1963 16th Street Baptist Church bombing in Birmingham, Alabama in which four young African American girls were killed while attending Sunday school.
- Freedom Riders (2011), a PBS film marking the 50th anniversary of the first Freedom Ride in May, 1961.
- Hairspray Live! (2016), a presentation of the John Waters musical about a fictional Baltimore desegregation of a television dance program.
- Rosa (Doctor Who) (2018), an episode of the popular science-fiction series depicts Rosa Parks and her 1955 sit-in which began the Montgomery Bus Boycott.
- "We Shall Overcome", gospel-based song that became an anthem for the civil rights movement.
- "We Shall Not Be Moved", spiritual-based song often sung during the civil rights movement.
- "Keep Your Eyes on the Prize", sung during the Movement actions, based on the traditional folk song "Gospel Plow".
- "This Little Light of Mine", originally a hymn, the lyrics were modified as it became a movement anthem.
- "Fables of Faubus" (1957), Charles Mingus's jazz composition written and performed in response to the Little Rock Nine incident
- "The Death of Emmett Till" (1962), one of several songs Bob Dylan paid tribute to civil rights; this one a reference to the Murder of Emmett Till
- "Oxford Town" (1962), written and sung by Bob Dylan, pertains to James Meredith's enrollment at the University of Mississippi.
- "Alabama" (1963), John Coltrane's jazz composition response to a 1963 church bombing that killed four young girls.
- "Birmingham Sunday" (1964), Richard Fariña's response to the Birmingham church bombing recorded by Joan Baez, Fariña's sister-in-law, on her 1964 album Joan Baez/5.
- "Mississippi Goddamn" (1964), Nina Simone's response to the murder of Medgar Evers.
- "Only a Pawn in Their Game" (1964), Bob Dylan's response to the murder of Medgar Evers.
- "Keep on Pushing" (1964), rhythm and blues hit single by The Impressions.
- "Here's to the State of Mississippi", (1965) a protest song by Phil Ochs that criticizes the state of Mississippi for its mistreatment of African Americans.
- "Eve of Destruction" (1965) references the Selma to Montgomery marches.
- "Abraham, Martin and John" (1968), a tribute to Abraham Lincoln, Martin Luther King Jr, John F. Kennedy, and Robert Kennedy written by Dick Holler and first recorded by Dion.
- "If I Can Dream" (1968), recorded by Elvis Presley in honor of King soon after King's death.
- Scenes from the Life of a Martyr (1981), a 16-part oratorio composed by Undine Smith Moore in memory of King.
- "MLK" (1984) by U2, a lullaby to honor Martin Luther King, Jr.
- "Pride (In the Name of Love)" (1984) a song about King by U2
- Joseph Schwantner: New Morning for the World; Nicolas Flagello: The Passion of Martin Luther King (1995), an album of classical music by the Oregon Symphony in honor of King.
- "Up to the Mountain (MLK Song)" (2006), Patty Griffin's song about the emotions surrounding King's 1968 I've Been to the Mountaintop speech.
- "A Dream" (2006), by Common for the film Freedom Writers, uses King's "I Have a Dream" speech
- "Glory" (2014), from the film Selma, won both the Golden Globe and Academy Award for Best Original Song.
- The Meeting (1987), a play about an imaginary 1965 meeting between Martin Luther King Jr. and Malcolm X in a hotel in Harlem.
- James Baldwin: A Soul on Fire (1999), set in Baldwin's apartment on the morning of May 24, 1963, immediately before Baldwin and other Black leaders are scheduled to meet with Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy concerning events in the civil rights movement.
- Hairspray (2002), a musical based on the 1988 film described above.
- The State of Mississippi and the Face of Emmett Till (2003) is a play centered on the murder and subsequent open-casket funeral of Emmett Till.
- The Mountaintop (2009), a play set in Room 306 of the Lorraine Motel the night before King's assassination.
- I Dream (2010), a musical about the life of Martin Luther King Jr.
- All the Way (2012), a play about President Lyndon Johnson and his work to pass the 1964 Civil Rights Act.
- Martin Luther King and the Montgomery Story (1957), graphic portrayal of the 1955-56 Montgomery Bus Boycott.
- March (2013), the life and events of the Selma to Montgomery march as remembered by activist John Lewis.
- Darkroom: A Memoir in Black and White (2012) by Lila Quintero Weaver, graphic memoir recounting Weaver's childhood during the 1960s in Marion, Alabama. Published in Spanish as Cuarto oscuro: Recuerdos en blanco y negro.
- The Problem We All Live With (1964), a painting by Norman Rockwell depicting Ruby Bridges, the six-year-old African-American girl who, in 1960, was the first to desegregate William Frantz Elementary School in the South during the New Orleans school desegregation crisis.
- Bust of Martin Luther King Jr. (1970), by Charles Alston, has been featured in the Oval Office of the White House by the Obama and Trump presidential administrations.
- U.S. Capitol Rotunda sculpture (1986), a bust of Martin Luther King Jr., dedicated by John Wilson.
- Civil Rights Memorial (1989), a memorial fountain in Montgomery, Alabama designed by Maya Lin dedicated to 41 people who died in the civil rights movement.
- Rosa Parks (2009), a statue in Eugene, Oregon portrays activist Rose Parks waiting for a bus.
- Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial (2011), showcases the statue of Martin Luther King Jr. by Lei Yixin and several surrounding art pieces and quotations on the National Mall in Washington, D.C.
- Rosa Parks (2013), statue in National Statuary Hall, Capitol Building, Washington, D.C.