The Making of African American Identity: Volume III, 1917–1968 | National Humanities Center

Primary Source Guides

The Making of African American Identity: Volume III, 1917–1968

Made possible by a grant from the Wachovia Foundation.

View of crowds in front of the National Mall and the Washington Monument at the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom
“Civil Rights March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom”

The Making of African American Identity: Volume III, 1917-1968” is an open educational resource that explores critical themes and historical developments related to the African American experience in the United States during the period from 1917 to 1968. This volume is the third installment of the series. This primary source guide is organized into five sub-topics and each section contains a vast collection of primary source materials including historical documents, literary texts, and works of art which have been contextualized with annotations and notes, and feature a set of discussion questions for classroom use.


  • Explores the nature of segregation and its components.
  • Examines how African Americans experienced segregation.
  • Distinguishes between segregation and racial separation, probing into the nuances of these concepts.


  • Investigates the various migrations undertaken by African Americans during the 20th century.
  • Examines the social, economic, and cultural effects of these migrations.


  • Explores the diverse forms of African American protest against racial injustice.
  • Traces the evolution of protest strategies and goals over time.
  • Analyzes how African American identity was shaped in opposition to the larger American society through protest.


  • Considers how the African American community defined itself.
  • Examines the role of the African American community in the lives of its members.
  • Reflects on how changing notions of African American identity influenced definitions of the African American community.


  • Examines the progress made by African Americans by the end of the 1960s and what they had overcome.
  • Assesses the impact of the civil rights movement on the lives of African Americans.
  • Considers the challenges and obstacles that still remained to be overcome in the pursuit of racial equality and justice.

This educational resource offers a comprehensive exploration of the African American experience during a tumultuous period marked by segregation, migration, protest, and the pursuit of civil rights. It provides valuable insights into the struggles, achievements, and evolving identities of African Americans in the mid-20th century United States.

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History / African American History / American Civil Rights Movement / Racial Justice / United States of America /


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