Learning to Give, Philanthropy education resources that teach giving and civic engagement

JUSTICE and The Jim Crow Laws
Lesson 2
Academic Standards
Philanthropy Framework


This lesson will explore the events and circumstances (the Jim Crow Laws) that led up to the Civil Rights Movement. The lesson is designed to provide the learners with an historical understanding of circumstances of African - Americans prior to the Civil Rights movement as well as motivate them to assess some of the contemporary social injustices of their day. 


Three Fifty-Minute Class Periods


The learner will:

  • understand and define term JUSTICE
  • become familiar with some of the terminology that is identified with the Civil Rights Movement 
  • examine the impact of racial and social  injustices (the Jim Crow Laws) that impacted the Civil Rights Movement.
  • identify and compare social injustices of today to those of the Civil Rights Movement.

Service Experience:

Although this lesson contains a service project example, decisions about service plans and implementation should be made by students, as age appropriate.
Learn more about the stages of service-learning.
None for this lesson.




Handout 1
Civil Rights Terms
Handout 2
Social Justice: Then and Now
Handout 3
Social Justice: A Personal Opinion
Handout 4
The Paper: A Grading Rubric

Instructional Procedure(s):

Anticipatory Set:

Begin this lesson by asking the learners to complete an acronym for JUSTICE.  Explain how to complete the activity and if necessary, provide one or two suggestion i.e. J = just/justify; U = upright/utopia; S=safe/secure;T= truthful; I = ideal/integral; C= correct E= equality/equal.   Allow the learners ten minutes to complete this activity, after which time have them orally discuss their responses and their reasons for the words they suggested.  Then share the definition for the word --JUSTICE. (n) The principle of moral or ideal rightness; conformity to the law; the abstract principal by which right and wrong are defined; a judge. Have the learners then compare their responses and as a class develop a 'revised' acronym for "justice" utilizing all the 'best' words that correspond with the letters and the definition of JUSTICE.

Day One

  • Copy the Civil Rights Terms (Attachment One). Cut apart the 11 terms and give each of 11 learners one term along with its definition.
  • Write the 11 terms on the display board/overhead without their definitions. In random order, ask those learners holding the slips to read aloud only the definition of their term. After each reading, have the remaining learners attempt to guess the word on the display board/overhead that best fits the given definition.
  • Identify how the past behaviors/injustices might logically have attributed to the Civil Rights Movement and how they relate to their discussion of JUSTICE during the anticipatory set.
  • Now that the learners have had a glimpse at some of the terms, have them explore in more depth some of the Jim Crow Laws. They can do this using their textbooks or by doing an Internet search with the term "Jim Crow Laws." 
  • Distribute Social Injustice: Then and Now  (Attachment  Two) and have the learners, in the class time remaining, discover as much as they can about the Jim Crow Laws that impacted these identified areas. Under Then, they are to summarize the laws that they find in reference to each area. Then they determine in their own mind whether or not these laws are still in effect, in one way or another, today by placing a YES or NO under Now. Inform the learners that they are to be able to explain their opinions if called upon to do so. (Teacher Note: Is is not anticipated that the learners will be able to complete this assignment within this class period so the remainder of the investigation could be assigned as homework) 

Day Two

  • Have the learners share what they learned concerning some of the Jim Crow Laws they recorded on the handout Social Injustice: Then and Now  (Attachment Two) and encourage those who were unable to identify laws in all the areas to take notes covering those areas they missed.
  • After sufficient information has been shared, have the class meet in groups of three or five, instructing them that they are to reach a consensus as to whether or not their group feels that these Jim Crow Laws are still being practiced today, in one way or another, and that they need to be prepared to defend their group decision.
  • Reconvene the whole class to share their consensus and rationale for it.

Day Three:

  • Revisit the JUSTICE acronym and review it with the learners from the standpoint of the Jim Crow Laws and how the Civil Rights Movement was an attempt to bring JUSTICE into these laws.
  • Distribute Social Injustice: A Personal Opinion (Attachment Three). Given all that they have read and discussed regarding Jim Crow Laws in the past and today, students now have an opportunity to share their personal opinion about whether or not there are still injustices evident in their world, community, or school today.
  • Distribute the handout The Paper: A Grading  Rubric (Attachment Four) and review the grading system with the learners.
  • Allow the learners the remainder of the class time to spend working on their papers. Assign these papers to be completed by the next class period.



The learners are to be assessed based upon their involvement in the class discussions and group participation, as well as on their paper based upon the proposed grading rubric. 

School/Home Connection:

None for this lesson.

Bibliographical References:


Paralegal. Net. “Jim Crow Laws” http://www.paralegal.net/resources/jim-crow-laws/

Lesson Developed By:

Peggy Thomas
Detriot Public Schools
Office of Social Studies
Detroit, MI 48202


Handout 1Print Handout 1

Civil Rights Terms

1. Jim Crow: This term refers to a type of racial caste system and forced racial segregation that existed primarily, but not exclusively, in the Southern and Border States between 1877 and the mid 1960s. These laws tightly controlled social interactions between blacks and whites and as a result, relegated African Americans to the status of second-class citizens. The effects of Jim Crow were most obvious in the separate public facilities for blacks and whites, such as restrooms, drinking fountains and all forms of public transportation.

2. color board: This was used to separate a bus or train cars into separate sections for blacks and whites. The bus driver or train conductor would move the board forward or backward depending on the number of white passengers. For example, as more white passengers boarded the bus or train the driver would move the board further back to make more room, leaving less room for black passengers and therefore, requiring more of them to stand.

3. resistance: The act of striving to work against, to remain firm against, oppose or withstand force. segregation: To separate from others or from a main body or group, or to impose the separation of a race or class from the rest of society.

4. working class: The social standing of people who are employed in low wage positions that require physical labor and/or repetitive tasks.

5. militant: Individual who chooses to engage in combative or aggressive behavior, especially for an ideal or cause. boycott: To abstain from buying something or dealing with someone as a form of protest.

6. Aryan supremacy: This is the ideology that whites are physically and intellectually superior to all other races. It became well known during World War II as the driving force behind Hitler’s annihilation of millions of European Jews.

7. “separate but equal”: The Supreme Court doctrine established in the case of Plessy v. Ferguson in 1896. In this precedent-setting case, the Supreme Court upheld the Louisiana “Separate Car Law” which created separate but equal train cars for blacks and whites. The doctrine made it legal for other states to extend this principle to other forms of public transportation and public facilities.

8. oppression: To keep down by unjust use of force or authority, or to weigh heavily on the mind or spirit. It also means difficult to bear, burdensome and can be used in reference to those who are tyrannical or are affected by tyranny.

9. assert: To state positively or affirm, to defend or maintain, or to put oneself forward boldly or forcefully.

10. civil society: A set of intermediate associations which are neither the state nor the extended family; civil society therefore includes voluntary associations and firms and other corporate bodies. empathy: Identification with and understanding the feelings of another person.

11. philanthropic acts: The giving of one’s time, talent or treasure for the sake of another, or for the common good. commons: Resources which are not owned, either privately or by the state, but are left open for free use by all comers.

Handout 2Print Handout 2

Social Justice: Then and Now


Find samples of Jim Crow Laws from various states and summarize them under Then. Under Now , share whether or not you think this law is still being practiced today where you live and be prepared to share the rationale of your opinion.
                                                                    Then                                                  Now             
Pool and Billiard Rooms
Toilet Facilities, Male
Juvenile Delinquents
Mental Hospitals 
Amateur Baseball
Wine and Beer
Reform Schools
Circus Tickets
The Blind  
Promotion of Equality
Hospital Entrances
Fishing, Boating, and Bathing
Telephone Booths
Lunch Counters
Child Custody

Handout 3Print Handout 3

Social Justice: A Personal Opinion


You are required to complete a two-page paper that identifies what you consider to be an injustice in our world, our community, or our school, today.  The paper should include the following:
  • Title of the social (human) injustice. 
  • Explain the impact of the injustice.
  • The inclusion of visuals (pictures/charts/graphs/diagrams/photographs) are extra credit.
  • Identify and conclude the paper with a solution or suggested method to correct this injustice.
Use the following check-list to aid in completing this paper:
1. Name the injustice
2. Describe the injustice.
3. Share why you consider this an injustice.
4. Identify any current actions that you are aware of that are being taken to correct this injustice and indicate why you think the action(s)  is or is not sufficient to correct this injustice. If you feel current actions are not taking place or are not sufficient to correct the injustice, share your ideas about a possible solution.
5. Indicate what role, if any, you might be willing to personally take to correct this injustice.
6.  If you have added pictures/visuals, indicate where you got them.

Handout 4Print Handout 4

The Paper: A Grading Rubric


A 5 point score:
  • Identifies and explains, in depth, a legitimate social (human) injustice
  • Provides thoughtful rationale for why this might be considered an injustice
  • Identifies current actions that are being taken to address this injustice
  • Shares a doable personal response to right the injustice
  • Utilizes neatness, proper grammar, spelling, punctuation and organization of thoughts
  • Utilizes pictures/photographs and/or charts/graphs to enhance the presentation
A 4 point scores:
  • Identifies and explains a legitimate social (human) injustice
  • Provides rationale for why this might be considered an injustice
  • Identifies a current action that is being taken to address this injustice
  • Shares a doable personal response to right the injustice
  • Utilities proper grammar, spelling, punctuation and organization of thoughts
  • Utilizes a picture/photograph and/or a chart/graph to enhance the presentation 
A 3 point score:
  • Identifies a social (human) injustice
  • Provides a rationale for why this might be considered an injustice
  • Identifies a current action that is being taken to address this injustice
  • Shares a personal response to right the injustice
  • For the most part utilizes proper grammar, spelling, punctuation and organization of thoughts
There will not be a 2 or 1 point score awarded for this project. 

Philanthropy Framework:

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