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Back to From Freedom Rides to Ferguson: Narratives of Nonviolence in the American Civil Rights Movement

Learner Reviews & Feedback for From Freedom Rides to Ferguson: Narratives of Nonviolence in the American Civil Rights Movement by Emory University

312 ratings

About the Course

The Modern Civil Rights Movement is a significant landmark in United States history. This movement was a struggle for human rights directly challenging the nation to extend its democratic principles to African Americans and all peoples. This course sheds light on the often overlooked strategic planning that supported the direction of the events and is told by a voice intimately involved in the organization of movement—Dr. Bernard LaFayette, Jr. Topics include the history of the campaigns, the different coalitions and groups, philosophy and methods of nonviolent direct action, and the contemporary application of nonviolent conflict transformation. The course hosts several guest speakers, including Andrew Young, Reverend C.T. Vivian, Henry "Hank" Thomas, and Constance Curry. Upon completion of this course, learners will be able to: ● Discuss the contributions and involvement of civil rights activists and leaders in the Civil Rights Movement (CRM) campaigns in the United States. ● Examine the chronology and phases of the Movement and CRM campaigns. ● Recognize and characterize the diverse activist groups involved in the CRM. ● Discuss Martin Luther King Jr.’s philosophy of nonviolence from a historical perspective. ● List and define the principles and strategies of nonviolence. ● Examine organizational and social change applications related to nonviolence. ● Identify the role of nonviolence in modern activism along with additional resources to broaden knowledge of principles of nonviolence. ● Recognize the application of nonviolence theories to activism, current issues, and everyday life....

Top reviews


Nov 20, 2020

The use of interviews is very effective in this course. The content is so relevant to apply today in the U.S. socially, politically, and in business. I only wish I had learned more about this earlier.


Apr 26, 2020

This course was wonderful! I learned so much and was able to learn more in-depth o stories and events that I knew of. Dr. LaFayette is a treasure and I look forward to hopefully meeting him one day.

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1 - 25 of 104 Reviews for From Freedom Rides to Ferguson: Narratives of Nonviolence in the American Civil Rights Movement

By Ola S

Jan 31, 2016

Overall an excellent course that involved a lot of great material on the nonviolent efforts of the Civil Rights Movement. I thought I knew a lot about the Civil Rights Movement but this course proved differently. My only suggestion for improvement is to add a segment that focuses on the contributions of women. Although there was some discussion of women's contributions, most of the material and all of the teachers, professors, speakers were male.

By Seongkyul P

Feb 17, 2017

I loved being able to hear directly from the leaders of the civil rights movement. The course videos were short enough that I got through the course in two Saturday afternoons. The stories interwove historical events and insights, practical strategies for mobilizing, and inspiring/moving confessions of light in even the darkest times.

Some of my favorite parts included learning about the following:

-Jails were used as active classrooms for university students! They even shared info on college access with a jail ward. Crazy.

-The civil rights leaders honored all people's dignity and believed in their mission beyond what seemed to be in front of their eyes. Who would have thought that the jailed students would sing to jail staff by name, that they'd build a relationship with them, that they'd sing songs of such conviction to uplift their spirits and to warn the system to "be prepared" for the many more who'd soon join their movement.

-Andrew Young's confession about what his wife told him after they read about Dr. Lafayette, essentially "drop everything, we gotta go back home NOW." Their sacrifice and courage, even when they had everything set up for them in the North, are incredible to witness.

-The cross-continental influences! I ddin't know Jim Lawson was a divinity school student, who ended up learning non-violence in India where he lived 3 years as a missionary. The intersection of faith, social justice, calling, cross-cultural sharing/empowering were themes I found unable to shake from my mind days after I finished this course.

-The civil rights movement was fiercely organized and executed. It didn't happen accidently over night, or by fury or whim of young folks alone. Even the young - so many of the leaders were so young!!! - had a very clear strategy to winning against structural racism, and even their sacrifices "dares" so to speak were planned and not foolish. They knew what dangers or threats there may be, but it was always with a clear goal and purpose that they put themselves in the act of civil disobedience.

I will be spending my upcoming months going through the readings, books, and independent research to learn more about the civil rights movements and its leaders. I was not taught any of this in detail in highschool, which I feel that it should!!! This course is timely, and much needed, as it's been disparaging to try to remain engaged and active under Trumplandia. Thank you to those who lived this history. Thank you SO MUCH for translating your experiences into another digestible course, so that less informed folks like me can encounter (albeit late) your bravery, intelligence, and accomplishments which should never be forgotten.

By Nikki R

Jun 22, 2020

I have recommended this course to anyone who has ears around me. I feel everyone should take this course for the mere fact that none of this information will not be found in our text books. As an African American woman I have learned soooo much that I am actually going to take the course a second time because it was that intruging.

By Sara M

Mar 6, 2019

This class was so well presented and I have recommended it to everyone willing to listen. The experiences, strategy and history shared are inspiring for those that want to better understand our past, but also for those that want to change our future. If you're thinking of taking this course, do not hesitate, sign up now!

By Emma J

Apr 26, 2020

This course was wonderful! I learned so much and was able to learn more in-depth o stories and events that I knew of. Dr. LaFayette is a treasure and I look forward to hopefully meeting him one day.

By kenyaSue S

Nov 17, 2020

I have learned so much and will be applying this to the change action empowerment in the UK. I appreciate this opportunity to learn at my own pace and appreciate the work undertaken in the past.

By Fanny G

Jan 9, 2017

The subject seems so interesting but we need more historical information. It's nice to have a personal point of view but it is difficult to follow the process then.

By Jayne E L

Aug 1, 2020

One of the definitions of the word EXPERIENCE is: The accumulation of knowledge or skill that results from direct participation in events and activities. This is what Rev Lafayette shares with us, as he recalls his experiences from his lifetime as a pivotal participant in the civil rights movement. This national treasure takes us through the birth of civil rights to today, leaving us with explicit guidance on how to implement nonviolent protest, and how to live a life that is loving, understanding, and most importantly fair to all. I could listen to him tell stories of his experiences all day, and never tire. Soak up every word and etch it into your heart! The sacrifices Dr Lafayette and the movement made (and are still making today) are incalculable. They experienced them, so we didn’t have to. We owe our gratitude and respect to these men and women. What an exceptional human being God has blessed this nation with. It was a privilege to take this class, and I hope he considers doing more. We still have a lot more to learn. God bless you, Dr Lafayette! I have a short bucket list, but I’m putting shaking his hand one day on mine.

By Kathy N

Mar 7, 2021

This course provides a dual benefit for the learner. You get to hear and relive the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s with some of those who were there AND you explore the use of nonviolence with its importance in social movements. The interview format used throughout was much more engaging than the traditional lecture format and questions/assignments sprinkled throughout reinforced the concepts. The additional reading activities, resources and bonus videos enhanced the learning process as well. I particularly liked "visits" to historical locations in the movement.

I am sad the course is over but grateful to have had this experience with Dr. LaFayette and such activists/icons as C.T. Vivian, Connie Curry, Henry Thomas, and Andrew Young. What a unique opportunity to learn history (and skills) from those who lived it!

By Ronald M d J

Jul 20, 2022

This course delivers, with great triumph, first person accounts and narratives of those most resolute of people involved in the American Civil Rights Movements of the 1950s and 60s. Through the actions of nonviolence in the pursuance and achievements of these fundamental civil and human rights, we learn of what often seems like insurmountable odds against systemic oppression challenged with staggering fortitude of mind, character, heart, and spirit of the truly courageous people involved. This course is a must do course! Dr. Bernard Lafayette, Jr. (a stalwart catalyst of the movement) has crafted an accessible yet challenging course to open this historic and ongoing advancement of civil rights for everyone, and how its success is accomplished and endures through the agency of nonviolence.

By Re B

Jul 14, 2020

Brilliant presentation by Dr Bernard La Fayette, what a life story, and so much understanding of non violent approach to conflict, spread through the globe. The only thing I wish is that Dr La Fayette had the opportunity to say Good bye at the end of the course, which similar to Dr Anderson's course on Black History and Policitics, finishes abruptly? Why is this, most unprofessional in the very least for Coursera to present online courses, with knowledgeable, excellent presenters, and yet come to a sudden halt. Without any finishing phrases from the individual who has worked so hard to get their matter across. In the Urban Education and History of America, there is a Good bye, why not others?

By Emily H

Jun 10, 2017

This was a wonderful course that I would suggest to anyone at all. It's so important to know the story and the struggles and bravery of those who non violently fought for equality and did not settle for life as it was for them by uniting with others who were like minding and focusing also on those common goals and not differences that may have been among them. Also learning about the organizing that took place and the elders of the movement leading the way and realizing the importance of education and leading those younger who wanted to participate etc... As an individual, a community, nation, and world there is so much to learn from this course.

By Shirley P

Jan 1, 2016

This was a great refresher course for me having lived during the Civil Rights Movement but in the northern part of the United States. Dr. Lafayette did a wonderful job in his stories and descriptions to make the Movement struggles and successes real. He and others also shared interesting insider tidbits on those active in the movement. Great class! Thank you for the opportunity to learn and grow in knowledge of those who fought hard so that each of us in this country can eat lunch or ride a bus however we need to in our every day lives.

By Neil O

Dec 23, 2020

The wisdom beneath the testimonials is telling. The desire to come to the table first and present the specific issue, then when it was repeatedly ignored, and it remained unheard, they strategized, but first, leaders and followers alike were trained in non-violence (as a philosophy). Such a brilliant strategy, utilized by so many, with long term and enduring effect. I learned much about courageous people through this course--especially those who were willing to stick to their principles and values. Informative and inspiring!

By Charmaine C

Apr 28, 2023

An exceptional course. I am Canadian and wanted to learn more about the Civil Rights Movement. It's brilliant to hear from Dr. Lafayette as he teaches, relates his experiences and continues to promote non-violence. Well structured with relevant course materials and discussions. I particularly enjoyed Dr. Carol Anderson videos to hear her explain why Ferguson happened. This course is comprehensive and a good overview of the Civil Rights movement and it's leadership in the 60's. I highly recommend.

By Nancy J B

May 28, 2016

Absolutely brilliant course. Each lesson is thoroughly enjoyable thanks to the charisma and passion of Bernard Lafayette, as well as eye-opening and educational in an astoundingly refreshing way. This course doesn't just teach a concept, it motivates you to do something with the information and guides students towards an important method in attaining social change. The history and ongoing philosophy and campaign are nothing short of inspirational.

By Linda C

Mar 30, 2017

I am 68 years old and remember this era quite vividly. It is very enlightening to hear these events described by those in the thick of things. It gives me better understanding of their thought process, their issues, and the complexity of the issues. This is all applicable today as we see a resurgence in bigotry and violence against those who are different. It is something we must all fight against at all times.

By Christine Z

Sep 28, 2020

This course is impressive and everyone who wants to do social change should take this course. I learned so many valuable lessons. It is so amazing to learn from the experience of the CRM. To understand where the success came from is so valuable. I never thought of linking the success of the CRM to so many strategies, rules, and values. Thank you to Dr. LaFayette & Emory Course Production Staff

By Renata P

Nov 8, 2016

Como o objetivo do curso é associar o movimento dos direitos civis nos anos 1960 com acontecimentos atuais, o dr Bernard LaFayette não só ensina a história e mostra como ela é relevante na sociedade atual, mas também nos motiva a utilizar a filosofia de não-violência no dia a dia, nos incentiva a pensar sobre nossas ações e em como podemos fazer uma diferença. Curso incrível e bem organizado.

By Luz-Elena C

Apr 5, 2017

A beutiful course- From Freedom Rides to Ferguson: Narratives of Nonviolence in the American Civil Rights Movement.

This is a historical event that keeps updating itself every day. History as it is happening! And we are so very lucky to have the very protagonists of these historical events here, teaching this course at Coursera. People from everywhere in the world can now learn about this.

By LaVinia G H

Aug 30, 2020

THE BEST course AND Instructor ever!...and I have completed a Master's degree and JD programs. I thought I knew everything about Civil Rights that I needed to know. Was I ever wrong about that assumption. Dr. Lafayette can also give lessons on teaching to most teachers and professors. His method of teaching is a lesson in itself. Thank you!

By Eleanor M

Jul 27, 2017

Simply excellent. Truly an education on history and planning for the future - future generations, that is. This teaching is phenomenal insight that should be shared in every high school and college that seeks societal understanding and growth and desires a turning away from past atrocities and human division. Thank you for sharing!

By Priscilla A W

Sep 7, 2020



Priscilla A. Wallace-Boerger, EdD

By David G

Jun 22, 2021

Dr. Bernard LaFayette, Jr. presents an outstanding history of the Civil Rights Movement, and the key principles of nonviolence as a protest methodology for success. His friendly disposition and care for his students is so heartwarming. I highly recommend this course. Thanks so much, Dr. Bernard LaFayette, Jr.

By Karin H

Feb 3, 2016

This class was excellent. I loved hearing what had to be said and the viewpoints I was given. It was like I was actually there walking among the people. I felt myself protesting and fighting against racism. It was interesting to hear about all the different players in the movement and what they did.