The Economic Aspects of the Civil Rights Movement

The Civil Rights movement was about more than justice and equality for African Americans, it also was about economic opportunity. This story looks at the economic impact of the movement on three Georgians. Felder Daniels owns and works a 101 acre farm near Americus. The farm was passed to him from his sharecropper parents who saved enough money for its purchase. They were the first black family in Sumter County to own land. Both Daniels and Doug Bachtel, a demographer at the University of Georgia, talk about the necessity of getting bank credit to buy seed and fertilizer and how difficult it was for blacks to get a bank to lend them money. Daniels talks about the importance of doing something for yourself and his promise to his mother keep the farm in the family. Tena Butler attended segregated schools in Savannah. She knew everything was different for African Americans, but it was accepted as the norm. When she was older, she joined the NAACP and began to protest against segregated businesses. She helped integrate Tybee Island. To earn a living, she worked as a cashier in the segregated cafeteria at the Union Bag Mill. When her white co-workers threatened to stop eating there if she did not stop picketing, she had to choose between her principles or her job. She found another job and continued to do what she believed in. Lillie Rosser, a former housecleaner and now an assistant pastor at an Atlanta church, explains how she made it. Her story is one of determination and of a dream to own a brick house. She worked several jobs and always kept her dignity while living in a segregated society. She now owns her brick house and believes a person can do anything if he or she tries.

Teacher tip: Give students a list of Georgia’s character education traits and ask them to choose one of the Georgians in the film and write a paragraph describing how that person exhibits two or more traits.