Skip to main content

Lesson Plan Segregation: From Jim Crow to Linda Brown

Teachers

The era of legal segregation in America, from Plessy v. Ferguson (1896) to Brown v. The Board of Education, Topeka, Kansas (1954), is seldom fully explored by students of American history and government. At most, these studies are sidebar discussions of isolated people or events. It is important for students to develop an understanding of the complex themes and concepts of African American life in the first half of the 20th century to provide a foundation for a more meaningful understanding of the modern Civil Rights Movement. The following mini-unit will allow students to explore to what extent the African American experience was "separate but equal."

After completing a study of Plessy v. Ferguson (1896), students will simulate the Afro-American Council Meeting in 1898 using African American Perspectives: Materials Selected from the Rare Book Collection. This will be followed by an exploration of resources in the digital collections and other classroom materials. The unit culminating activity asks students to role-play an imaginary meeting of a similar civil rights organization prior to the Brown case in 1954.

Objectives

Students will be able to:

  • Research American Memory collections and identify the diverse experiences of African Americans between 1896 and 1953.
  • Describe the social, economic and political conditions of African Americans at the turn of the century.
  • Evaluate primary sources and create a presentation reflective of the African American experience

Time Required

One week

Lesson Preparation

Materials

Resources

Learning Guide Answer Key

Segregation and Violence session:

Protection of American Citizens Pamphlet - "The Black Laws" by Bishop B. W. Arnett

  1. What occurred when federal enforcement of the 14th Amendment stopped in 1877?
    "Black Laws" were passed which imposed strict segretion. These legal acts, combined with terrorism, overcame any progress that had been made.
  2. Name three significant accomplishments of Bishop B. W. Arnett.
    He was the first African American to serve as a foreman of an all-white juty.
  3. He was elected to the Ohio State Legislature from a predominantly white district.
  4. He was the author of the bill which repealed Ohio's Black Laws.

Mob-violence and Anarchy, North and South Pamphlet - "Lynch Laws in Georgia" by Ida B. Wells-Barnett

  1. Name three offenses for which African Americans were lynched.
    Stealing a cow, arguing with a white man, attempting to register to vote.
  2. What was the real purpose of the savage demonstrations toward African Americans?
    To teach them that, in the South, African Americans had no rights which the law would enforce.
  3. For what is Ida B. Wells best known?
    Her crusade against lynching.
  4. In the photograph of George Meadows, the title given to him, "murderer and rapist," is significant because. . .
    Because all Black men lynched were accused of heinous crimes when, in fact, most had committed only minor offenses.

Solving the Race Problem session:

Industrial Education Pamphlet - "Nineteenth Annual Report of the Tuskegee Institute" by Booker T. Washington

  1. Why were schools such as Tuskegee Institute significant in advancing the causes of African Americans?
    They were crucial in Negro development because recently freed slaves were not prepared to live as free men. These schools taught basic skills (ie. farming, carpentry) to help African Americans subsist.
  2. What was some of the criticism of the Tuskegee Institute?
    Some charged that it did nothing more than teach African Americans to comply with the social order.
  3. Why could Booker T. Washington be viewed as a hypocrite?
    Because although he advised African Americans to abide by segregation codes, he often traveled in private railroad cars and stayedin good hotels.

Higher Education Pamphlet - "The Primary Needs of the Negro Race" by Kelly Miller

  1. What was meant by "practical education" at the Hampton & Tuskegee Institutes?
    Involved training in agriculture, domestic science, and manual and industrial arts.
  2. What kind of education did the Niagara Movement support?
    They advocated a liberal education that would hopefully advance the position of blacks in society rather than teach them tolerance.
  3. What view of education did Kelley Miller support?
    He believed a middle course of action should be taken. He proposed a "symmetrical development" of African American minds; cultivating them with vocational and intellectual instruction.

Contributions to the Nation session:

Address to the Country Pamphlet - "An Address Delivered at the Cotton States Exposition" by Booker T. Washington

  1. Was Booker T. Washington's speech received better by whites or blacks?
    It was better received by whites due to his "desire to get along" with whites.
  2. When Washington said, "make...both races one.", did he mean integration? Explain.
    No, he said "the [races] can be as separate as the fingers, yet one as the hand".
  3. Explain the quote, "The opportunity to earn a dollar in a factory just now is worth infinitely more than the opportunity to spend a dollar in an opera house."
    He argued that material advancement over social integration was more important as an immediate goal.
  4. Did Washington favor immigrants over freed slaves? Why or why not?
    Washington favored freed slaves over immigrants because of the many contributions of African Americans throughout U.S. history.

Lesson Procedure

Tell students that the National Afro-American Council met in Washington, D. C. in 1898, to consider the status of the race at the turn of the century. Using African American Perspectives: Materials Selected from the Rare Book Collection, students will simulate attendance at this Council meeting. Although this collection does not include the actual speeches made at the meeting, it offers similar voices, ideas, and concerns. Students will "attend" one of the three sessions of the meeting: Segregation & Violence; Solving the Race Problem; or Contributions to the Nation.

Students read and study materials similar to conference materials they might have received if they had attended this meeting.

Introductory Activity (15 minutes)

Divide students into home groups prior to activity.

  1. As a class, students complete the "K" column of a K - W - L chart focusing on their prior knowledge of African-American life experiences at this time.
  2. After completing the chart, the teacher will help students compile a master list of information the class has already learned about the African-American condition at the turn of the century.
  3. The class will brainstorm additional themes and ideas they need to understand the topic and write these in the "W" column of the K - W - L

Activity One - Attend the 1898 National Afro-American Council (1 Day)

  1. Divide students into three expert groups:
    • Segregation and Violence
    • Solving the Race Problem
    • Contributions to the Nation
  2. Students should read the documents listed for their session and answer the questions for their session. See Learning Guide Answer Key for possible responses to the questions.
  3. Students return to their home groups. Home groups should have members from each of the expert groups. Home groups discuss observations from the study, debriefing each other about the sessions and answering the questions for all sessions.

Activity Two - Research Library of Congress Digital Collections (1 Day)

Tell students that they are now going to plan a 1953 meeting to consider the status of the race at the middle of the twentieth century. They will research the topic of their 1898 conference session, looking for more recent data on their topic for discussion at the 1953 meeting.

  1. Students form into expert groups by session topics.
  2. In their expert groups, each student locates two to three items that support the session topic, beginning with the collections listed:
    • Segregation and Violence
    • Solving the Race Problem
    • Contributions to the Nation
  3. Each expert group evaluates resources found by members of the group, selecting 2-3 items that together provide a comprehensive overview of the topic. Groups identify print and online materials using appropriate citation guidelines.

Activity Three - Synthesis of Convention (1 Day)

  1. The expert groups meet to examine items they've evaluated and selected and plan a short council meeting session related to the group theme.
  2. Groups can develop a storyboard, post items on a school Internet site or print copies for classroom display.
  3. Each group "attends" the other two sessions of the 1953 meeting created by the class.

Lesson Evaluation

The teacher needs to continuously monitor student progress with attention to technical skills, understanding, and focus of the student activity. Various techniques can be incorporated for assessment as the teacher deems necessary.

Credits

Agnes Dunn and Eric Powell

Students

Students begin in their home groups, and return to home groups for debriefing. Members of home groups should be also be assigned equally to each of the three expert groups. Each expert group will "attend" a different session of the 1898 Afro-American Council Meeting.

Segregation and Violence

Activity 1 - Progress of A People

Examine both documents, then answer questions below. You may want to examine the full text as well as the excerpt.

Protection of American Citizens Pamphlet - "The Black Laws" by Bishop B. W. Arnett

  1. What occurred when federal enforcement of the 14th Amendment stopped in 1877?
  2. Name three significant accomplishments of Bishop B. W. Arnett.

Mob-violence and Anarchy, North and South Pamphlet - "Lynch Laws in Georgia" by Ida B. Wells-Barnes.

  1. Name three offenses for which African Americans were lynched.
  2. What was the real purpose of the savage demonstrations toward Negroes?
  3. For what is Ida B. Wells best known?
  4. In the photograph of George Meadows, the title given to him, "murderer and rapist," is significant because...

Activity 2 - Research

Keyword searches should use words that would be found in speeches and written documents. This often includes legal terms and professional names, for example, suffrage is used more often than voting. Below is a compilation of keywords you may find helpful in searching the Library of Congress digital collections and other materials:

  • lynching
  • riots
  • Red Summer
  • Ku Klux Klan
  • Marcus Garvey
  • black nationalism
  • Jim Crow laws
  • Black Codes
  • Benjamin O. Davis
  • equality
  • suffrage
  • segregation
  • Rosewood
  • Plessy v. Ferguson
  • Scottsboro Case

African American Odyssey contains a wide array of important and rare books, government documents, manuscripts, maps, musical scores, plays, films, and recordings. See the Special Presentation, African American Odyssey: A Quest for Full Citizenship for information on equal rights from the early national period to the twentieth century.

African American Perspectives: Materials Selected from the Rare Book Collection presents a panoramic and eclectic review of African-American history and culture, from the early nineteenth through the early twentieth centuries. Among the authors represented are Frederick Douglass, Booker T. Washington, Ida B. Wells-Barnett, Benjamin W. Arnett, Alexander Crummel, and Emanuel Love. Progress of a People is a Special Presentation of African American Perspectives, 1818-1907.

American Life Histories: Manuscripts from the Federal Writers' Project, 1936-1940 is a collection of oral history interviews. The interviews describe the informant's family education, income, occupation, political views, religion and mores, medical needs, diet and miscellaneous observations.

Jackie Robinson and Other Baseball Highlights, 1860s-1960s tells the story of Jackie Robinson and baseball in general. The Special Presentation, Baseball, the Color Line, and Jackie Robinson, 1860s-1960s, is a timeline that tells the story of the segregation and later integration of the sport.

Activity 3- Synthesis of the 1953 Convention

Working in your expert groups, your next task is to plan a 1953 meeting to consider the status of the race at the middle of the twentieth century. Research the topic of your 1898 conference session, looking for more recent data on the topic for discussion at the 1953 meeting.

  1. Meet in your expert groups to examine the resources and information each of you located in your research.
  2. Next, your expert group will evaluate these resources to determine which two or three of them give a good overview of the topic and plan a short meeting session.
  3. For each resource identified, consider how it relates to your session topic, and whether it's a primary or a secondary source.

Solving the Race Problem

Activity 1 - Progress of A People

Examine both documents, and then answer questions below. You may want to examine the full text as well as the excerpt.

Industrial Education Pamphlet - "Nineteenth Annual Report of the Tuskegee Institute" by Booker T. Washington.

  1. Why were schools such as Tuskegee Institute significant in advancing the causes of African Americans?
  2. What was some of the criticism of the Tuskegee Institute?
  3. Why could Booker T. Washington be viewed as a hypocrite?

Higher Education Pamphlet - "The Primary Needs of the Negro Race" by Kelly Miller.

  1. What was meant by "practical education" at the Hampton & Tuskegee Institutes?
  2. What kind of education did the Niagara Movement support?
  3. What view of education did Kelly Miller support?

Activity 2 - Research

Keyword searches should use words that would be found in speeches and written documents. This often includes legal terms and professional names, for example, suffrage is used more often than voting. Below is a compilation of keywords you may find helpful in searching the Library of Congress digital collections and other materials:

  • Niagra Movement
  • National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP)
  • W.E.B. Du Bois
  • Marcus Garvey
  • Universal Negro Improvement Association (UNIA)
  • Executive Order 9081
  • industrial schools
  • Tuskegee Airmen
  • Great Migration
  • Eleanor Roosevelt
  • National Negro Business League
  • National Urban League

African American Odyssey contains a wide array of important and rare books, government documents, manuscripts, maps, musical scores, plays, films, and recordings. See the Special Presentation, African American Odyssey: A Quest for Full Citizenship for information on equal rights from the early national period to the twentieth century.

African American Perspectives: Materials Selected from the Rare Book Collection presents a panoramic and eclectic review of African-American history and culture, from the early nineteenth through the early twentieth centuries. Among the authors represented are Frederick Douglass, Booker T. Washington, Ida B. Wells-Barnett, Benjamin W. Arnett, Alexander Crummel, and Emanuel Love. Progress of a People is a Special Presentation of African American Perspectives, 1818-1907.

American Life Histories: Manuscripts from the Federal Writers' Project, 1936-1940 is a collection of oral history interviews. The interviews describe the informant's family education, income, occupation, political views, religion and mores, medical needs, diet and miscellaneous observations.

Jackie Robinson and Other Baseball Highlights, 1860s-1960s tells the story of Jackie Robinson and baseball in general. The Special Presentation, Baseball, the Color Line, and Jackie Robinson, 1860s-1960s, is a timeline that tells the story of the segregation and later integration of the sport.

Activity 3 - Synthesis of the 1953 Convention

Working in your expert groups, your next task is to plan a 1953 meeting to consider the status of the race at the middle of the twentieth century. Research the topic of your 1898 conference session, looking for more recent data on the topic for discussion at the 1953 meeting.

  1. Meet in your expert groups to examine the resources and information each of you located in your research.
  2. Next, your expert group will evaluate these resources to determine which two or three of them give a good overview of the topic and plan a short meeting session.
  3. For each resource identified, consider how it relates to your session topic, and whether it's a primary or a secondary source.

Contributions to the Nation

Activity 1 - Progress of A People

Examine the following document, and then answer questions below. You may want to examine the full text as well as the excerpt.

  1. Was Booker T. Washington's speech better received by whites or blacks?
  2. When Washington said "make...both races one," did he mean integration? Explain.
  3. Explain the quote, "The opportunity to earn a dollar in a factory just now is worth infinitely more than the opportunity to spend a dollar in an opera house."
  4. Did Booker T. Washington favor immigrants over freed slaves? Why or why not?

Activity 2 - Research

Keyword searches should use words that would be found in speeches and written documents. This often includes legal terms and professional names, for example, suffrage is used more often than voting. Below is a compilation of keywords you may find helpful in searching the Library of Congress digital collections and other materials.

  1. Jackie Robinson
  2. Tuskegee Airmen
  3. Harlem Renaissance
  4. Langston Hughes
  5. Zora Neale Hurston
  6. Joe Louis
  7. Louis Armstrong
  8. Ella Fitzgerald
  9. George Washington Carver
  10. Buffalo Soldiers (also see 9th and 10th Calvary)
  11. Benjamin O. Davis
  12. Mary McLeod Bethune
  13. Matthew Perry

African American Odyssey contains a wide array of important and rare books, government documents, manuscripts, maps, musical scores, plays, films, and recordings. See the Special Presentation, African American Odyssey: A Quest for Full Citizenship for information on equal rights from the early national period to the twentieth century.

African American Perspectives: Materials Selected from the Rare Book Collection presents a panoramic and eclectic review of African-American history and culture, from the early nineteenth through the early twentieth centuries. Among the authors represented are Frederick Douglass, Booker T. Washington, Ida B. Wells-Barnett, Benjamin W. Arnett, Alexander Crummel, and Emanuel Love. Progress of a People is a Special Presentation of African American Perspectives, 1818-1907.

American Variety Stage: Vaudeville and Popular Entertainment, 1870-1920 is a multimedia anthology selected from various Library of Congress holdings. This collection illustrates the vibrant and diverse forms of popular entertainment, especially vaudeville, that thrived from 1870-1920.

Van Vechten Collection consists of 1,395 photographs taken by American photographer Carl Van Vechten (1880-1964) between 1932 and 1964. The bulk of the collection consists of portrait photographs of celebrities, including many figures from the Harlem Renaissance.

Jackie Robinson and Other Baseball Highlights, 1860s-1960s tells the story of Jackie Robinson and baseball in general. The Special Presentation, Baseball, the Color Line, and Jackie Robinson, 1860s-1960s, is a timeline that tells the story of the segregation and later integration of the sport.

Activity 3 - Synthesis of the 1953 Convention

Working in your expert groups, your next task is to plan a 1953 meeting to consider the status of the race at the middle of the twentieth century. Research the topic of your 1898 conference session, looking for more recent data on the topic for discussion at the 1953 meeting.

  1. Meet in your expert groups to examine the resources and information each of you located in your research.
  2. Next, your expert group will evaluate these resources to determine which two or three of them give a good overview of the topic and plan a short meeting session.
  3. For each resource identified, consider how it relates to your session topic, and whether it's a primary or a secondary source.
 Back to top