JUSTICE and The Jim Crow Laws

9, 10, 11, 12

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. 

Lesson Rating 
PrintThree Fifty-Minute Class Periods

The learner will:

  • understand and define term JUSTICE
  • become familiar with some of the terminology thatis identified withthe 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.
Home Connection 

None for this lesson.


  1. 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

  2. Copy the Civil Rights Terms (handout below). Cut apart the 11 terms and give each of 11 learners one term along with its definition.

  3. 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 that best fits the given definition.

  4. 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.

  5. 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."

  6. Distribute Social Injustice: Then and Now (handout below) 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 determinein 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)

  7. Day Two

  8. Have the learners share what they learned concerning some of the Jim Crow Laws they recorded on the handout Social Injustice: Then and Now and encourage those who were unable to identify laws in all the areas to take notes covering those areas they missed.

  9. 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.

  10. Reconvene the whole class to share their consensus and rationale for it.

  11. Day Three:

  12. 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.

  13. Distribute Social Injustice: A Personal Opinion (Handout 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.

  14. Distribute the handout The Paper: A Grading Rubric and review the grading system with the learners.

  15. 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 ason their paper based upon the proposed grading rubric.

Cross Curriculum 

None for this lesson.

Philanthropy Framework

  1. Strand PHIL.II Philanthropy and Civil Society
    1. Standard PCS 01. Self, citizenship, and society
      1. Benchmark HS.5 Describe civil society advocacy organizations and their relationship to human rights.
    2. Standard PCS 05. Philanthropy and Government
      1. Benchmark HS.10 Discuss the results of private citizen voluntary action intended for the common good on public policy changes.
      2. Benchmark HS.4 Identify and discuss civil society sector organizations working to protect individual rights, equity, and justice.
    3. Standard PCS 06. Philanthropy in History
      1. Benchmark HS.1 Describe how the common good was served in an historical event as a result of action by a civil society sector organization.
  2. Strand PHIL.III Philanthropy and the Individual
    1. Standard PI 01. Reasons for Individual Philanthropy
      1. Benchmark HS.10 Identify reasons why historic figures acted for the common good.
      2. Benchmark HS.11 Discuss the concept of corporate citizenship and corporate responsibility for the common good.
      3. Benchmark HS.4 Cite historical examples of citizen actions that affected the common good.