Lesson Plan: Overview

Why Jim Crow?


Grade Level: 5th

Jim Crow water fountain

Academic Standards

Social Studies Standard 5-1: The student will demonstrate an understanding of Reconstruction and its impact on racial relations in the United States.

5-1.5 Explain the purpose and motivations behind the rise of discriminatory laws and groups and their effect on the rights and opportunities of African Americans in different regions of the United States.

Social Studies Standard 5-5: The student will demonstrate an understanding of the social, economic, and political events that influenced the United States during the Cold War era

5-5.3 Explain the advancement of the civil rights movement in the United States, including key events and people: desegregation of the armed forces, Brown v. Board of Education, Martin Luther King Jr., Rosa Parks, and Malcolm X.

Social Studies Literacy Elements

E. Explain change and continuity over time

G. Make and record observations about the physical and human characteristics of places

H. Construct maps, graphs, tables, and diagrams to display social studies information

P. Locate, gather, and process information from a variety of primary and secondary sources including maps

Essential Questions

1. Why did the Jim Crow Laws develop in the South?
2. How did the Jim Crow laws affect the Civil Rights Movement?

Historical Background Notes

When the Civil War was over African Americans became free. However, they then faced a bigger problem. Southern States came up with another way to enforce slavery that became known as the Black Codes. These laws were adopted by Southern States to restrict the freed slaves. After the Thirteenth Amendment that abolished slavery was passed, many states came up with their own Black Code laws that limited certain rights and gave them no voting rights at all. Southerners felt that the blacks might consider themselves equal to whites, and they weren’t going to let this happen.

These Black Codes were different from state to state to keep the former slaves under white control. Their workday was from sunrise to sunset (Edgar 74). The blacks were not allowed to farm, travel, own weapons, or be out pass a certain time. If these codes were not obeyed, the former slaves would be fined and sent to jail. They also had to pay a fine for time spent in jail, and if they couldn’t, then they went to a work camp to pay the debt. South Carolina Black Codes were much harsher than other states.

Through Reconstruction, the Fourteenth and Fifteenth Amendments were passed. These amendments extended freedom and citizenship rights to African Americans. Southern States didn’t like or agree with the freedom that blacks gained. After Reconstruction ended, white southerners gained back some control in the governments. Laws were passed that again restricted the rights of African Americans. Tactics were used such as violence to terrorize, torture, and murder blacks in the South to keep them from voting.

Along with violence and terror, white Southerners also used the law against blacks. (Anderson 7) Laws in the South became known as Jim Crow laws. These laws were created to enforce segregation. The name Jim Crow came from the song, “Jump Jim Crow,” which was a minstrel character in a popular entertainment show. Jim Crow was a white man (Dan Rice) that painted his face black as to look like an African American. The reason for this character was to show racism through depiction of a poor and uneducated black man. Jim Crow laws were a common practice in South Carolina. (Homecourt Publishers 37) African Americans had to attend different schools, use different water fountains, and different bathrooms. These laws kept them from voting by creating poll taxes, literacy tests, and the grandfather clause. The grandfather clause stated if your grandfather, great grandfather, etc. couldn’t vote, then, you can’t either. In the Plessy v. Ferguson case, the court ruled that segregation was legal as long as 'separate but equal’ facilities were available for blacks and whites. The law stayed around for nearly sixty years (Anderson 7).

In South Carolina and in other Southern States there were “Whites Only” or “Colored Only” signs. These signs identified seats and facilities reserved for each race. Manners were a must. Whites were addressed as Massa, Master, Miss, or Boss. Using Mr. or Mrs. was rude. In Charleston, South Carolina, African Americans were not allowed to sit on the Battery. The Jim Crow Laws, as they were called, came to control every part of life in the South.

The African Americans began a movement to gain more civil rights. This movement included rallies, protests, speeches, and organized events to demand for equal rights. The case of Brown v. Board of Education ( stated that segregation in public schools was illegal) and the Montgomery Bus Boycott (which stated blacks did not have to give up their seats) began to change some of the Jim Crow laws and gave African Americans some equal rights. Sit-ins began to take place. African Americans sat down in lunch counters and refused to leave until served. These sit-ins made many southern whites angry (Price 21). Freedom Riders rode across the south to try and stop the segregation on buses. Freedom Riders faced violence when they protested (Price 21).

The Civil Rights Movement was growing. Black leaders such as Martin Luther King, Jr. and Malcolm X, pushed the government to end the South’s Jim Crow laws. They wanted new laws that gave freedom to all people without restrictions. Finally, in 1964 the Civil Rights Act was passed and became a law. These new laws put an end to the South’s Jim Crow laws. Today, some people still try to segregate themselves. The fight for Civil Rights continues (Price 26).

Cultural Institution Partners

South Carolina Department of Archives and History
South Caroliniana  Library


Primary Sources

Black Population and Its Effects on Jim Crow Laws in South Carolina.    South Caroliniana Library, Columbia, South Carolina.

Code of Laws of South Carolina, 1902. Volume I, The Civil Code. Columbia, South Carolina: The State Company, State Printers, 1902. South Carolina Department of Archives and History, Columbia, South Carolina.

South Carolina Primary Documents Workbook. Greenville, South Carolina: Homecourt Publishers, 2006.     

Woodward, C. Vann. The Strange Career of Jim Crow. Oxford University Press, Inc., 1968. South Caroliniana Library, Columbia, South Carolina.                                 

Secondary Sources

Anderson, Michael. The Civil Rights Movement. Chicago, Illinois: Reed Educational & Professional Publishing, 2004.

Edgar, Walter. South Carolina Encyclopedia. The University of South Carolina Press, 2006.

Farmer, Lisa. "Jim Crow Laws and the Civil Rights Movement." Pictures from Google Images. Foresman, Scott. Social Studies: Growth of a Nation.Pearson Education, 2005. PowerPoint Lecture.

Price, Sean. When Will I Get In?: Segregation and Civil Rights. Raintree, 2007.


• SmartBoard for PowerPoint
• Activities Handout
• Copies of Primary Sources Document(s) (see Primary Sources section above)
• Secondary Sources - Books (see Secondary Sources section above)

Lesson Plans

Day 1--55 Minute Class

1. Introduce Jim Crow and the Civil Rights Movement using my PowerPoint-Jim Crow Laws and The Civil  Rights Movement

2. Give out class activities—Segregation & Civil Rights—Students work in groups to complete both activities. Students will read primary documents then complete questions, adjectives to describe Jim Crow, and create a protest sign for the Civil Rights Movement.

3. Class discussion on questions and activities --focus on Jim Crow laws tied to the Civil Rights Movement.

Day 2—55 Minute Class

1. Revisit PowerPoint for Review

2. Show samples of primary sources and secondary sources—books, documents, letters, etc.

3. In groups, students will use some primary documents to compare Jim Crow laws in South Carolina to Jim Crow Laws in other states—Texas, Virginia, Florida, Georgia.  Each group will have a different state to compare to South Carolina using a Venn diagram.  At least four comparisons listed for similarities and differences.

4. Groups present to the class the similarities and differences in the laws to the class.  Teacher will list on the board the states with the similar laws.

5. Home Work---Write in Social Studies Journal your feelings on the Jim Crow laws and answer the question—How did the Jim Crow laws have an effect on the Civil Rights Movement?

Day 3—15 minutes at the beginning of class

1. Take a five-question quiz.

Teacher Reflections

When I signed up for this class I really didn’t know what to expect.  I haven’t used the Archives resources that much and, to be truly honest, it has been a long time.  I didn’t realize how much things have changed since I graduated, but I found out.  I learned that the South Carolina Department of Archives & History was a great place to find information along with the other cultural institutions.  I learned many ways to use primary sources in the classroom, as well as other areas like family history.

The teaching from Paul Anderson was a major influence on my teaching strategies.  He gave me some ideas to use in my classroom that I was unaware of.  For example, he mentioned how to link everything you teach as a whole and not in pieces.   I never thought of it that way, but after he explained why it made sense.  This lets the students see the connection as a whole picture.  I feel this will help me in my teaching of history for a long time.

The Master Teachers also gave strategies and methods that were very helpful.  Some of the methods used for teaching using primary sources were very helpful.  Some of the ideas were for upper grades but could be changed to use with the lower grades.  The political cartoon was one of my favorites.  I use them in my classroom, but for fifth graders it’s hard for them to grasp.  Some of the activities that the Master Teachers gave us helped me see how to make it a little easier for my students to understand.

The resources that the Teaching American History in South Carolina (TAHSC) program gave during the class were unbelievable.  I have on hand items that I will use and treasure throughout my teaching.  I am pleased with all the materials that I received during this class.  The materials are related to what I teach in my classroom, and that’s a huge asset for me, especially since there is no money in our district now to get items of interest.   Resources are other ways to get students motivated and I appreciate all that I received.

The cultural institutions were something I learned very much about.  I learned how to actually research specific topics such as the Jim Crow Laws.  I am an older student, and I have never experienced that kind of research before.  I enjoyed learning something that I didn’t know.   I also learned how going to these institutions can help me get resources for my classroom such as primary documents.  I can now go and use these places if there is something I can’t find at my school or in my county.

The historical sites and museums would have to be my most memorable part of the class.  Why, because it gave me the visual part of the history from this course.  I tremendously enjoyed going to the McKissick Museum, Kensington Mansion, the SC Confederate Relic Room, Lake Greenwood, The Big Apple, South Carolina State Museum, and the St. Phillips School.  Just to see the history was amazing.  I loved going to Kensington Mansion and taking part in the tour and seeing the house and where the slaves did their work.  This was valuable to me as a teacher because I can share what I saw with my class.  To see how St. Phillips School looked and was used compared to what we have in the schools today was also something to share with my class.  How the museum collections are handled in the storage area was a wake-up call to me. I would have never known how items were tagged and stored.  Just about everything throughout these sites was information that I could use in my teaching career. 

The speakers that came in to talk to us were very informative about the topics they relayed to us.  The speaker at Lake Greenwood was great and delivered information in a way that made you understand. I learned that they have school field trips that my class can take to learn information related to fifth grade.  The museum displayed good information about history in South Carolina.  The park’s exhibit and structures were evident of the Civilian Conservation Corps.

The books that were required to be read for this class were an insight to me for seeing how people lived during that time.  It’s a lot different than the way we live now.  I enjoyed the books, and I have already discussed them with my class. I have pointed out to them certain parts that related to their lessons. For example in Fire in a Canebrake, I have explained to my class how African Americans were treated differently and discriminated against because they were black.  In Heaven is a Beautiful Place, I used the family that lived next to the ocean during World War II and explained to my students how the planes were always fighting over the ocean.  These true happenings are great in the classroom to let the students visualize how it was back then.

The handouts for use in classroom activities were also great resources for me to use in my teaching.  I have already used one of the political cartoon handouts.  It helps to get together in classes like this because it lets you see that you need to get out of the same old routine, and do something different.  These activities are great sources for higher-order thinking in the classroom for students. I know these resources will be helpful for me in the future.

This lesson turned out to be a little too hard for my students as far as comparison of the laws.  The laws from the different states seemed to be a little hard for them to read and understand. The activities from the primary source workbook that was specific to their grade level worked best.  I would probably change the activity that compared the Jim Crow laws from different states. Maybe I could find a simpler explanation of the laws and present it that way.  I will have to do a little more research to find out how to change that activity. I really liked the Homecourt Primary Source Workbook for the fifth grade level.  It seemed more appropriate for fifth graders.  My future growth would definitely have to be in researching to find more appropriate materials for my students.

Overall, I can truly say that this course has influenced my teaching and taught me a great deal that will help enhance my teaching.  I would recommend this course to other history teachers.  Teachers of other subjects could also learn from this class.  They could learn about primary and secondary resources and how to transfer them to other subject areas.  I would love to take this class again.  It would help to refresh my memory, and I’m sure I would learn something new if I took it again. The influence this course had on my teaching career is as follows:  it has helped me to expand as a history teacher, given me ways to motivate my students, taught me more about primary and secondary sources, given me ways to use the sources in my teaching of history as well as other subjects, and helped me to appreciate history more than ever.

Student Assessment

Day 1---Class activity—Segregation & Civil Rights - using primary documents

Day 2---Group activity

Day 3---Quiz

Examples of Students Work

Samples of activities from Homecourt Publishers Primary Documents Workbook

Student Segregation Sheet 1
Student Segregation Sheet 2
Student Civil Rights Sheet 1
Student Civil Rights Sheet 2

Samples of comparison of the Jim Crow Laws in South Carolina to other states in the South

Student Venn Diagram 1
Student Venn Diagram 2

Student Social Studies Quiz 1
Student Social Studies Quiz 2


Lisa Farmer
Blaney Elementary School
Elgin, South Carolina