LGBTQ Activism and Contributions: A New Primary Source Set

Photograph of civil rights leader Bayard Rustin during interview on the March on Washington

Civil rights leader Bayard Rustin. Warren Leffler, 1963

From films of protest marches to interviews with military veterans; from love letters to poems to glimpses of lives in historical newspapers: A new primary source set from the Library of Congress showcases collection items that document the lives, freedom struggles, and cultural contributions of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ) Americans.

This teacher resource, LGBTQ Activism and Contributions, includes primary sources from more than a century of U.S. history, and provides opportunities to explore political movements of the 20th century as well as the accomplishments of writers and artists. Highlights include street-level films of protest marches from the 1960s and 1970s, including what many believe to be the first Pride celebration; an oral history interview with longtime activist Frank Kameny; recordings of Audre Lorde and James Baldwin reading their own literary works; and much more.

Sign for the Christopher Street Gay Liberation Day parade in 1970

Christopher Street Liberation Day Parade in New York City, 1970

The set includes historical background information and teaching ideas that support students as they analyze these unique primary sources. The set also gives teachers an opportunity to begin discussion of gaps in the historical record, and to look at the possible causes of those gaps.

We hope you’ll let us know if you have any favorites in this set, and tell us how you plan to use them in your own classroom.

A Teacher’s Memories of Congressman John Lewis

Rebecca Newland, a former Teacher in Residence and contributor to the Teachers Page blog and the Poetry and Literature Center blog reflects on her interactions with the late congressman John Lewis. She notes that by talking about Lewis and his work with young people, we can keep alive the spirit of compassion and non-violence he espoused.