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Late 19th Century Civil Rights Lesson Plan

State Standard

Standard 11.3 (1) Describe the contributions of various religious groups to American civic principles and
social reform movements (e.g., civil and human rights, individual responsibility and the work ethic,
antimonarchy and self-rule, worker protection, family-centered communities).

Standard 11.3 (2) 2. Analyze the great religious revivals and the leaders involved in them, including the
First Great Awakening, the Second Great Awakening, the Civil War revivals, the Social Gospel
Movement, the rise of Christian liberal theology in the nineteenth century, the impact of the Second
Vatican Council, and the rise of Christian fundamentalism in current times.

Standard 11.5 (2) 2. Analyze the international and domestic events, interests, and philosophies that
prompted attacks on civil liberties, including the Palmer Raids, Marcus Garvey’s “back-to-Africa”
movement, the Ku Klux Klan, and immigration quotas and the responses of organizations such as the
American Civil Liberties Union, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, and
the Anti-Defamation League to those attacks.

Anticipatory Set

The teacher will silence the students at the beginning of class and will state: “Students, this morning we
are taking a quiz. It is pass/fail, and you have five minutes to complete it. You may not talk to your
neighbor. If you do, you will fail the quiz. I will distribute the quizzes now.” At that time, students will
take the 1965 Alabama State literacy test. The test is very difficult and many of the students will get
worried. As soon as five minutes has passed, inform the students of the nature of the test, and ask for
feedback as to how they felt about it. Then, the teacher will go over the correct answers on the test, and
there will be a brief discussion about the historical significance of the literacy tests.

Learning Objective

In this lesson, you will learn about the civil rights movement during the late 19th century. You will be able
to identify the three main aspects of Jim Crow laws, know the outcome of the Plessy v. Ferguson ruling
and understand two of the main arguments made by the court, and list at least two points of ideological
differences between the two main reformers during that time, Booker T. Washington and W.E.B.


After the literacy test exercise, the teacher will give a power lecture about 19th century civil rights,
highlighting key information about Jim Crowe.
 Jim Crow Laws
o Southern response to Reconstruction Amendments (13, 14, 15)
 13= abolish slavery
 14= equal protection under the law
 15= voting rights granted regardless of race
o In effect until about 1951
o Included things like:
 Poll taxes
 Stringent property requirements
 Literacy tests
The lecture will break once the teacher introduces Plessy v. Ferguson, and the students will break up
into small groups to study portions of the Supreme Court Decision. Half of the groups will be studying
one excerpted page of the majority opinion, and half of the groups will be studying one page of the
dissent. The groups will pinpoint the key arguments posed by the majority or by dissenting Justice
Harlan, and they will elect one person to share their findings with the class. The groups will have about
15-20 minutes to complete the activity. The teacher will compile a list on the white boards of the
arguments on a t-chart form using the input from the student groups. After the activity, the teacher will
recap the case and note also that it was not overturned until the Brown v. Board of Education case in
 Plessy v. Ferguson
o SCOTUS case under the Taney court
o Affirms constitutionality of separate but equal doctrine
 Overturned in Brown v. Board in the middle of the 1950s
If there is time, the teacher will show the following video clip as an introduction to Washington and
DuBois (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MLkyCAcizdk). If there is not time, the teacher will
immediately deliver a short lecture introducing these two most prominent African-American reformers
of the time, and will discuss the key differences between the two reformers.
 Booker T. Washington
o Racism as consequence of slavery
o Economic self-help, master trades to gain respect via economic progress
o Accomodation to white society
o Vocational education
o Discrimination could only be overcome gradually
 WEB Du Bois
o Racism as cause of slavery
o Advocated for intellectual development for future leaders
o Legal action to oppose Jim Crow
 Helped found NAACP
o Opposed gradual approach
o Saw economic success as only possible after political rights were secured
At the end of the lecture, the students will complete an exit ticket that discusses which reformer’s
ideology they personally agree with more, and they will explain why. This activity is explained in more
depth in the Independent practice section.


During the power lecture, the students will be taking notes in a packet (to be turned in with the
classwork packet on test day). The notes will be set up almost exactly like the slides, so the students will
see from the teacher’s example how the key ideas should be copied down.

Check for Understanding

There are several opportunities to check for understanding during this lesson. Firstly, after the literacy
test and brief Jim Crow lecture, the teacher will require a choral response to recap the big three
elements of Jim Crow (poll taxes, literacy tests, and property requirements). Secondly, the teacher will
check in individually with groups during the Plessy v. Ferguson activity, and the list compiled as a class
will reveal to the teacher how much the groups understood of the SCOTUS brief, and if details were
missed, the teacher will add those details at this time. Thirdly, the exit ticket will enable the teacher to
see if the main ideological differences between Washington and DuBois were communicated as the
students make a personal connection to the two thinkers, and indicate some understanding of the
philosophies belonging to the reformer of their choosing.

Guided Practice

The teacher will ask students to respond to the Plessy v. Ferguson ruling after compiling the class’ list of
points. The teacher will ask students to think about the ruling and consider the arguments made by each
side. This situation is guided because the teacher will help frame the arguments and will do a “think-
aloud” for the students to model the independent practice activity.

Independent Practice

Students will complete an “exit ticket” where they will decide which reformer they agree with more—
Washington or DuBois. The students will write on a notecard “I agree with _____ because…” and will
have to include at least one reason they agree with that reformer, showing knowledge of the beliefs of
the reformer covered in the power lecture.


The teacher will collect the exit tickets while verbally reminding the students of the three pieces of the
19th century civil rights movement that were studied in class: Jim Crow laws, Plessy v. Ferguson, and the
two most prominent reformers of the time.


The teacher has allowed for differentiation in many ways. Firstly, the tasks include a combination of
auditory and visual learning. Additionally, the tasks include group activities to enable the students to
learn from one another. Also, the teacher has placed the ELs in groups with shorter reading assignments
for Plessy v. Ferguson, and has provided them with word banks to aid them in understanding the
SCOTUS brief. The teacher can also check in with individual students during the group work to make
sure the needs of each student are being adequately met.