“Rise Up: The Movement That Changed America” is a Must-See Documentary

I watched a very interesting documentary yesterday called “Rise Up: The Movement That Changed America” and it’s about the key battles in the Civil Rights Movement. If you are into watching documentaries and learning more about the Civil Rights Movement, then I recommend watching this film.

I learned a few new facts about the Civil Rights Movement that I didn’t know before watching the film. For instance, I didn’t realize the Birmingham protest in May 1963 was led by students.

This documentary discusses the details of this particular march and how the students in Birmingham were instrumental in changing the Civil Rights Movement.


Martin Luther King, Jr. leading a peaceful protest. (Photo Credit: Rise Up/History Channel)

On May 2, 1963, students in Jefferson County, Alabama marched to Birmingham to protest. It sounds familiar to a present-day school walkout, doesn’t it? President Bill Clinton, who offers his thoughts in the film on the Civil Rights Movement, brought up the connection of the 1963 school walkout to the students of Marjorie Stoneman Douglas High School in Florida who led the National School Walkout Day on March 14, 2018.

President Clinton said the students of Marjorie Stoneman Douglas High School “are the best tradition of the Civil Rights Movement.”

“What young people can learn from the Civil Rights Movement is that they can make a difference. They’re never too young to make a difference. They’re never too poor to make a difference. There are strength in numbers and strength in determination.” President Bill Clinton, 42nd President of the United States of America

A commemoration of the 55th anniversary of the Children’s March will be held on May 5th in Birmingham, Alabama if you are interested in attending the event.

Eli Lehrer, Executive Vice President of Programming, HISTORY on Rise Up: The Movement That Changed America:

“We are currently witnessing a young generation rising up to make their voices heard, similar to the journey courageous leaders of the Civil Rights movement took to create change in America. Through the powerful storytelling of LeBron and Stanley, this film will reflect on the past providing viewers with an intimate account of the campaigns that resulted in unprecedented legislation, and look toward the future as current activists and politicians continue the path toward change.”

Lorraine Motel
View of the site of the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr. at the Lorraine Motel, part of the National Civil Rights Museum in Memphis, TN. The wreath marks the approximate site. (Photo courtesy Dav Greg)

50th Anniversary of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s Death

Another significant event which occurred during the Civil Rights Movement is the tragic death of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Wednesday, April 4th marks the 50th anniversary of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s death (#MLK50).

In the film, Rev. Jesse Jackson said in regard to Dr. King’s death “the wound is still fresh.” Although I was not born when Dr. King was assassinated, I know his death still hurts many Americans, including his children.

As you already know, Dr. King was one of the main leaders of the Civil Rights Movement and his work had a great impact on our country. Another instrumental leader during the Civil Rights Movement was Reverend Fred Shuttleworth. He also had a great impact on the Civil Rights Movement and his contribution to the movement is also discussed in the documentary.

I remember visiting the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute (BCRI) when I was in graduate school. It was there I had learned more about Fred Shuttleworth. My visit was a very moving experience and I learned so much about the Civil Rights Movement. I hope Travis and I can take the kids to Birmingham to visit the Civil Rights Institute. If you ever get the chance, I definitely recommend you visit BCRI.

Photo Credit: History Channel

Interviewees Featured in “Rise Up”

“Rise Up: The Movement That Changed America” features interviews with Civil Rights movement activists, politicians and historians such as:

President Bill Clinton, 42nd President of the United States

Reverend Jesse Jackson, Civil Rights Activist and Pastor

Andrew Young, Civil Rights Activist and former Mayor of Atlanta

Senator Cory Booker, Senator from New Jersey

Senator Doug Jones, Senator from Alabama

Harry Belafonte, Actor and Social Activist

Rashad Robinson, Color of Change Executive Director

The documentary was executive produced by LeBron James and Maverick Carter (SpringHill Entertainment) and Emmy-Award winning filmmaker Stanley Nelson (The Black Panthers: Vanguard of the RevolutionFreedom Riders).

FUN FACT: Basketball player LeBron James was a producer for the documentary. Here’s an interview with James discussing the film.

Topics Discussed in the Film

“Rise Up: The Movement That Changed America” discusses pivotal moments during the Civil Rights Movement and the four legislative decisions that resulted, including:

Montgomery Campaign, which declared that segregated public transportation was in violation of the 14thAmendment;

Birmingham Campaign, led to the Civil Rights Act of 1964 which ended segregation in public places and banned employment discrimination;

Selma Campaign, led to the Voting Rights Act of 1965, which aimed to overcome legal barriers that prevented African Americans from exercising their right to vote;

and the Chicago Campaign, which led to the Fair Housing Act of 1968, which prohibited discrimination over the sale, rental or financing of housing.

“What I long for in this country is to remember our history. That change doesn’t come from Washington, it comes to Washington.”

Senator Cory Booker, “Rise Up: The Movement That Changed America”

“Rise Up: The Movement That Changed America” premieres tonight at 10 PM ET/PT. If you watch the film, let me know what you think of it. I really enjoyed learning more about these key moments in the Civil Rights Movement and I am sharing the documentary with Elijah and Michala to watch for homeschool.


You can watch the documentary on History here.

What are your thoughts?