Academy Award-nominated The Barber of Birmingham
portrays the unsung "foot soldiers" of the civil rights movement through
the personal story of 85-year-old barber James Armstrong, who carried
the American flag in the epic 1965 "Bloody Sunday" Selma voting rights
march, and spearheaded efforts to integrate public schools in Alabama.
was one of thousands of average Americans who risked jail and their
lives in the fight for racial equality and the right to vote. "The worst
thing a man can do is nothing," says Armstrong in the film.
Army veteran, he was the proprietor of Armstrong's Barbershop, a
political and cultural hub in Birmingham, Alabama, for more than 50
years. Every inch of wall space in his shop was covered with
inspirational clippings and photographs of his heroes, including Martin
Luther King, Jr., who had his hair cut by Armstrong.
to participating in the Selma march and being jailed in other protests,
Armstrong filed a ground-breaking lawsuit in 1957 that challenged school
segregation and led to his two sons enrolling as the first black
students at previously all-white Graymont Elementary in 1963. One of his
sons reflects back on what it was like as a child during those
Notably in the film, Armstrong celebrates an
event he never believed he'd see in his lifetime -- the election and
inauguration of the first African-American president. "This is what I
went to jail and marched for," he says.The Barber of Birmingham
vividly illustrates the history and impact of the voting and civil
rights movement through James Armstrong’s journey, supplemented by
commentary from prominent civil rights veterans as well as historical
footage from the 1965 Selma march, Armstrong's campaign for school
integration, and Dr. King's famous "I've been to the mountain top"
speech.ALSO FEATURED IN THE FILM:•Amelia Boynton Robinson
, Voting rights activist credited with initiating the Selma march•Rev. Dr. Bernard Lafayette
, co-founder of SNCC and an early leader in Selma for voting rights•Rev. C.T. Vivian
, ally and close friend of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
FREE DOWNLOADABLE GUIDES PREPARED FOR THE NATIONAL PBS BROADCAST
LESSON PLAN: EXPLORING THE HEROES OF SOCIAL JUSTICE MOVEMENTS
COMMUNITY EDUCATION & DISCUSSION GUIDE
Aligned with Common Core Standards for grades 6-12.
Developed by Cari Ladd, M.Ed., former PBS Interactive director of education.
25 page guide with background info on the civil rights struggle, James Armstrong, resources and discussion questions.