Protest and prayer: the Jewish and Catholic presence at Selma

Cory Callahan (University of Alabama, Tuscaloosa, Alabama, USA)
Janie Hubbard (University of Alabama, Tuscaloosa, Alabama, USA)

Social Studies Research and Practice

ISSN: 1933-5415

Publication date: 9 September 2019



The recent motion picture Selma infused fresh interest – and controversy – into the political and emotional peak of America’s modern Civil Rights Movement. Ava DuVernay, the film’s director, faced criticism for her exclusion of the Jewish presence from the movie’s portrayal of the March 21, 1965 Voting Rights March. The recent attention presents a teachable moment and new energy for thinking deeply about this pivotal event in America’s past. The paper aims to discuss these issues.


The authors provide valuable historical domain knowledge surrounding the 1965 Voting Rights March, present the requisite plans and curriculum resources for implementing wise-practice instructional strategies, and explore the rationale underpinning the inquiry-based activities.


The authors share innovative approaches, at the secondary and elementary levels, integrating historical domain knowledge with renewed interest in the 1965 Voting Rights March to create powerful teaching-and-learning experiences. The approaches are innovative because they contain dynamic curriculum materials and reflect wise-practice use of historical photographs within the College, Career, and Civic Life (C3) Framework for Social Studies State Standards.

Practical implications

The approaches shared here are centered around questioning, a key to student learning. The lessons feature the development of questions, both from teachers and students, as classes work collaboratively to interpret a potentially powerful historical photograph and use historical events to practice thinking deeply about important topics.


Social studies classrooms are ideal educational spaces to develop and practice the analytical skills and dispositions students need to meet the challenge of critiquing visual information that concerns complex public issues, such as the role of religion in society.



Callahan, C. and Hubbard, J. (2019), "Protest and prayer: the Jewish and Catholic presence at Selma", Social Studies Research and Practice, Vol. 14 No. 2, pp. 238-254.

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