Skip to Main Content

African American Civil Rights Events of the 20th Century: Selected Pictures

This resource guide includes images of key activities and events in the movement for Black civil rights, 1950s-1970s. The selected images are from the Library of Congress Prints & Photographs Division and have no known restrictions on publication.


Man stands holding the bottom part of a sign, with the statue of Abraham Lincoln at the Lincoln Memorial in the background, taken during a Black Panther convention in 1970

Thomas J. O'Halloran or Warren K. Leffler, photographer. Black Panther Convention, Lincoln Memorial. 1970. U.S. News & World Report Collection, Library of Congress Prints & Photographs Division.

The Library of Congress Prints & Photographs Division has multiple collections that feature photographs from the African American Civil Rights movement. Rights-free images on the subject are less prolific, because they were taken during a period when copyrights could still be in effect. This guide focuses on a selection of images that are considered to have no known copyright restrictions.

These images were selected to meet requests regularly received by the division. Not all of the key events of the era are found in the Prints & Photographs Division collections (for instance, the division does not have photographs that are demonstrably rights-free showing the signing of the 1964 federal civil rights bill and has not found images in the collection showing the signing of 1965 voting rights legislation).

The images can be viewed and downloaded from the Prints & Photographs Online Catalog. Select the link or image grid below to view the set of images and accompanying descriptions. As additional images are identified that meet the criteria, codes are added to the descriptions to enable the additional images to be retrieved in the set.

Selected Images