U.S. historian William H. Chafe has called the civil rights movement of the 1950s and 1960s “the most significant social movement in all of American history.” The aim of this subject is to explore in detail the central protests and demonstrations of this important movement. Our chronology will largely concentrate on the period from the landmark 1954 Brown v. Board of Education decision through to the 1968 Poor Peoples’ Campaign. The subject, however, will also assess major changes in race relations since 1968, especially in the light of ongoing racial divisions in the United States. These divisions have been highlighted by the recent Black Lives Matter protests, which also illustrate the international reach of U.S. civil rights histories. Students will explore how the American civil rights movement was influenced by global events and how it inspired other protest movements, in the U.S. and beyond. They will also examine how a mass movement mobilizes successfully, identifying the circumstances under which non-violent direct action is successful. In the process, they will assess the key role of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.