In an era in which history had been sidelined in favor of “fake news” and appeals to xenophobia, distrust and polarization have (pardon the expression) trumped reasoned discourse – that is, the 1960s – the leftist organizer Saul Alinsky penned Rules for Radicals, looking back at his own past to draw lessons for current activists. In what has proven to be another challenging historical moment, this chapter explores the history of the American civil rights movement to ask, Alinsky-style, how do social movements operate? Presented as a baker’s dozen of lessons learned from the civil rights movement on building an effective political program against seemingly insurmountable odds, this chapter retells the civil rights movement thematically rather than chronologically. Each of these approaches and strategies had its own history, and made its own contribution to the struggle. Exploring each of these protest “building blocks” as distinct but intertwined strands of the narrative offers some new ways to understand how social movements have worked, historically, in the United States.