Teacher Resources
 -  Lesson Plan
-   Assessment Rubric

Separate But Equal?  The Jim Crow South

Picture courtesy of Jim Crow Museum of Natural History, curator David Pilgrim


During Reconstruction, Black Americans began to gain some freedoms that were previously unknown to them as slaves.  However, in the 1890s racial tensions began to flare once again.  White Americans in the North and South became less supportive of civil rights.  In 1896 the Supreme Court ruled in a landmark court case, Plessy v. Ferguson,  that "separate but equal" facilities were constitutional, therefore legalizing segregation.  Segregation was enforced in restaurants, schools, restrooms, parks, theaters, hospitals and all other public places.  Laws that acted to enforce segregation were referred to as "Jim Crow Laws."  Not until another landmark Supreme Court case, Brown v. Board of Education, Topeka, Kansas, in 1954 did segregation become illegal under the constitution.  The South, as well as the North, was forced to integrate all public institutions.

Picture courtesy of Jim Crow Museum of Natural History, curator David Pilgrim


In groups of five, you will create a television news broadcast in which you will discuss and dramatize the historical events that resulted from the Jim Crow laws.  Each person in the group will have an assigned job but will be required to assist in all phases of the task.  The jobs are as follows:
     Historian - This person will be responsible for leading the group in researching
            the internet and other resources for historical content.
     Reporter - This person will be responsible for leading the group in selecting
            historical information for the broadcast.
     Lawyer - This person will be responsible for leading the group in researching
            and discussing the legal aspects of the Jim Crow laws.
     Producer - This group member will be responsible for the overall delivery
            of the broadcast.
     Anchor - While all group members will participate in some aspect of the
            broadcast, the anchor will be the lead reporter.


As you search the Internet for historical information pertaining to the Jim Crow laws, you may find the following links most helpful:

 Creation Of the Jim Crow South   This site includes an article that outlines the origins of Jim Crow laws in the South.  Also included are links to related court cases.

 The Origins of the Jim Crow Laws   This site discusses the origins of the term "Jim Crow".

 Plessy vs. Ferguson   Complete court ruling including dissenting opinion.

 Jim Crow Laws in the South   This site includes articles and photographs that illustrate the laws in Virginia.

 State Examples   Find links to examples of Black Codes in Ohio, Mississippi, and Louisianna.

 Jim Crow Museum of Racist Memorabilia   This site includes many facts and examples of Jim Crow laws in the South.  Links that should beneficial in completing this assignment include:
                              Take a Virtual Tour of the Jim Crow Museum
                              Who Was Jim Crow?
                              What was Jim Crow
                              Other Jim Crow Information Links to numerous sites related to Jim Crow laws.

 The Man Who Killed Jim Crow   National Geographic article that discusses legal cases related to Jim Crow.

 The African American Experience in Ohio (1850-1920) This is a wonderful site to view digital documents of the Jim Crow era.

 African American Perspectives  The Library of Congress web site contains original documents

Picture courtesy of Jim Crow Museum of Natural History, curator David Pilgrim


Use the above resources and other appropriate resources to research Jim Crow laws.  With the information you gain from your research, create a television news broadcast that summarizes your findings.  Your broadcast will be presented to the entire class.  You can present your broadcast "live" using Power Point to provide graphics and other pertinent information.  Or, you can videotape your broadcast using posters to provide graphics and other important visuals.  All broadcasts must include five segments lasting approximately five minutes each for a total running time of 25 minutes.  The required segments include:

                 An Interview:  Include an interview of a person above the age of
                           60 who experienced the effects of Jim Crow laws.  Your interview
                            should illustrate how this person was affected by Jim Crow laws.
                            If you are unable to locate a subject to interview, your teacher
                            may have suggestions.
                 A Specific News Event:  Include a segment that illustrates a specific
                            event related to Jim Crow laws.  This segment should highlight
                            an event that shows how Jim Crow laws discriminated against
                            African Americans.  Discuss the origins of Jim Crow laws here.
                 Legal Analysis:  This segment should outline the legal cases related
                            to Jim Crow laws.  Specifically, discuss Plessy v. Ferguson and
                            Brown vs. Board of Education.
                 Editorial Commentary:  This segment should outline the group's
                            personal opinions of Jim Crow laws.
                 Miscellaneous:  Include a segment of your choosing.  The segment
                            must be relevant to the topic.

Exemplary        4pts Good           3pts Satisfactory        2pts Needs Improvement  1pt
Content  Covers topic in-depth with details and examples. Subject knowledge is excellent.   Includes essential knowledge about the topic. Subject knowledge appears to be good.    Includes essential information about the topic but there are 1-2 factual errors.   Content is minimal OR there are several factual errors. 
Oral Presentation  Interesting, well-rehearsed with smooth delivery that holds audience attention.  Relatively interesting, rehearsed with a fairly smooth delivery that usually holds audience attention.   Delivery not smooth, but able to able to hold audience attention most of the time.  Delivery not smooth and audience attention lost. 
Originality Product shows a large amount of original thought. Ideas are creative and inventive.  Product shows some original thought. Work shows new ideas and insights.   Uses other people's ideas (giving them credit), but there is little evidence of original thinking.  Uses other people's ideas, but does not give them credit. 
Workload The workload is divided and shared equally by all team members.   The workload is divided and shared fairly by all team members, though workloads may vary from person to person.   The workload was divided, but one person in the group is viewed as not doing his/her fair share of the work.  The workload was not divided OR several people in the group are viewed as not doing their fair share of the work. 
Requirements All requirements are met and exceeded.  All requirements are met.  One requirement was not completely met. More than one requirement was not completely met. 
Attractiveness  Makes excellent use of font, color, graphics, effects, etc. to enhance to presentation.  Makes good use of font, color, graphics, effects, etc. to enhance to presentation.   Makes use of font, color, graphics, effects, etc. but occasionally these detract from the presentation content.   Use of font, color, graphics, effects etc. but these often distract from the presentation content. 


The whole history of progress of human liberty
Shows that all concessions
Yet made to her august claims
Have been born of earnest struggle.
If there is no struggle
 There is no progress.

Those who profess to favor freedom,
And yet deprecate agitation,
Are men [and women] who want crops
Without plowing up the ground,
They want rain
Without thunder and lightning.
They want the ocean
Without the awful roar of its waters.
This struggle may be a moral one;
Or it may be a physical one;
Or it may be both moral and physical;
But it must be a struggle.
Power concedes nothing without a demand.
It never did, and it never will.
Find out just what any people
Will quietly submit to
And you have found the exact measure
Of injustice and wrong
Which will be imposed upon them,
And these will continue till they are resisted. . .
The limits. . . are prescribed
By the endurance
Of those whom. . [are] oppress[ed].
Men [and Women] may not get all they pay for
in this world, but they pay for all they get.
If we ever get free
from the oppressions and wrong heaped on us,
we must pay for their removal.
We must do this
by labor,
by suffering,
by sacrifice,
and if needs be
by our lives and the lives of others

Frederick Douglass, 1857

It is hoped that through this activity you have a better understanding of the struggle for equality in the United States.  Numerous injustices occurred and many lives were lost during this struggle for freedom and equal rights.  As citizens of this great nation, it is our responsibility to remember the brave people who fought for themselves and others.  These events, while sometimes difficult to understand, are an important part of our history.  By acknowledging the injustices of the past, perhaps we will better understand the present and work to ensure that all people, regardless of socioeconomic status, race, or religion, receive "equal rights under the law."