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Creation of Separate but Equal

Lesson Plan Item

General Information
Grade 3rd Grade Class Social Studies Length of Lesson 40-45 Minutes
Lesson Title Creation of Separate but Equal
Unit Title Enslavement to the Great Migration
Unit Compelling Question How does oppression force people to stay or move?
Historical Context:

After the Civil War and the reconstruction era, white supremacy resurfaced across the south and Jim Crow laws began to be put in place. African Americans fled from their homes in the south after harsh segregation laws and unsatisfactory economic opportunities made it impossible for them to flourish. They fled towards the North to take advantage of the need for industrial workers. African Americans wanted to build their own culture in American society. They confronted racial prejudices, as well as political, social, and economic challenges. 


~ Allyson Simpson, Simpson College


2018.010.016 This short newspaper article (27 April 1868) discusses a Supreme Court ruling in favor of Alexander Clark over the Independent School District of Muscatine. Prior to this ruling, Clark sued the Muscatine school board on behalf of his daughter, Susan, after he was told she could not attend the same school as white children. The Supreme Court ruled that all children in Iowa were equal before the law, and this landmark case ended school segregation in Iowa.

With a job as a barber, Clark was able to meet influential white and black males of Muscatine, helping his voice be heard. He was also a friend of Fredrick Douglass during the 1840s.

Muscatine became the largest African-American populated town in the state after many settled there after escaping the South or traveling eastward from other free states. Clark later established the African Methodists Episcopal Church in Muscatine, the first independent black domination in the United States.

Clark was a fighter for civil rights and in 1855 signed a petition with state legislature that repealed a law that prohibited free blacks from entering the state. The repeal did not happen, and migration continued. Clark also fought for African-American right to vote and gained the right in 1868. For his children, Clark fought for equal education and sued his daughter's school after she was denied entrance due to her race. Clark won his Supreme Court case and as a result, Iowa became one of the first states to integrate schools.

Clark was appointed U.S. Minister to Liberia by President Harrison in 1890, which became one of the highest-ranking appointments of an African-American by a president at that point of time. Clark died while in office of a fever in 1891.


~ Matthew Miller, Teaching Iowa History Team
Lesson Supporting Question How did oppression after the Civil War cause/motivate African Americans to migrate?
Lesson Overview

Students will embark on an investigation into how the oppression of the African American population in the South motivated them to move up North. Students will take on the roles of a Historian, Geographer, Political Scientist, and Economist to find the different factors that led to the African American moving North. Students will focus on the latter half of the 19th century after the end of the American Civil War. 

Primary Sources Used
Resources Needed
Lesson Target
  • Students will be able to demonstrate what compels people who are facing oppression to move to a new place and how that changes the demographics of the United States
  • Students will analyze primary sources and determine what the purpose of the document is and who the document intended for.
  • Students will be able to determine the social and demographic changes in the later 19th century by listing three social and demographical changes that impacted the late century. .
Lesson Themes No themes are assigned for this lesson.
Lesson Procedure
Step Procedure Time Differentiation plan / Additional Information
Bell Ringer

Introduce students to Separate but Equal mentality 
Students will be handed a primary source picture from the Library of Congress. The source is an excerpt of the Plessy v Ferguson
Students will have five minutes investigate and contextualize the sources by asking questions like:

What do you notice about this story?

Is there anything that surprised you?

Is Separate but equal really equal?

Students will answer the discussion questions and make a list of things the students noticed about the source
Write the list on whiteboard or poster for all students to see.

After small groups discuss the source, the teacher will signal to the class to come together as a whole group to discuss the questions


Source Link:https://www.loc.gov/item/96515737/

5 Min

Write discussion questions on the board for all student to see, will help with keeping students on task
Read questions out loud before kids do small group discussion to help with students that struggle with reading.
 For this lesson, the topic of slavery in America and the Civil war must have already transpired. 


Once the questions have been answered/discussed, the teacher will then talk about how segregation took a different form after the end of the Civil War, and many African American left to pursue a better life.
The teacher will introduce the student o different concepts that they may not have heard of, terms such as Jim Crow Laws, Segregation, Black Code Laws. 

6 Min

The term oppressed and should be covered in lessons before this when talking about slavery in America. 

If students struggle with the term, the teacher can take a small moment to reflect on what the definition of oppression is. 

Students will be instructed to find partners in preferable groups of 4.  This allows the student to select one of the four roles for their groups when they conduct research. 
Each student will be assigned a role in the research to promote thinking like Historians, the roles are as follows:



-Political Scientist


They will then  grab an electronic device, their Historian Research Journals, and a spot in the room where a group can work comfortably

2 Min

If no electric device is available for use, the teacher can hand out printed materials. These can vary on the readiness and interests of the students. But documents such as court cases summaries about segregation, an advertisement about better opportunities up North, or simple YouTube/PowerPoint Presentation could be beneficial in compensating for lack of electronic devices. 


Once roles are assigned students will now conduct research with selected partners to research why African Americans left the South to live in the North in the 19thcentury 
Students will be using specific, kid-friendly websites, and two primary sources to do this research:




These website will allow students to read different short articles describing Reconstruction after the Civil War, Civil Rights, and the start of the separate but equal. 
Students will answer questions based on their selected role.


What changes allowed the African American people to leave the South?
What has changed or stayed the same over time?


Why would African Americans move or leave the South?
How would you describe the people that live in the Southern States in the 19th-century?

Political Scientist:

What problems are the African American people facing?
Are the people being treated fairly? Why or Why not?


How do jobs impact people to go north?
How do African American people meet the need for a better lifestyle?


Students will down these questions in their Historian Research Journal and answer them to the best of their abilities


Primary Sources:




15 Min

Allowing students to work together will instill collaboration for the students that learn socially, as well as get the shyer student to engage with their


If there is a limited number of students, advance readiness students can have the option to work alone or work with students and do two roles.


Duckers is a good introductory website where students can research different topics of American history. This source is always helpful, as there is an option on the page to have someone read the passage to the students. Great for a student who had disability reading, or is vision impaired.
Transition The teacher will ask students to put away their research materials 1 Min  
Student Students in the four-person groups will share out their answers from their assigned roles. Each student will be responsible for filling out the answers given in their own Historian research Journal.  5 Min  

Students will watch a two-minute video that recaps and summarizes some of the major factors/reasons why African American migrated North.


2-3 Min

The video is from the national History channel and gives one or two examples from each of the four roles to help summarize the main points.

If time allows the teacher can ask if the video mentioned the students did not find in their research, or if the video did not talk about a factor that they thought was important. 
Formative Assessment
(How will you use the formative assessments to monitor and inform instruction?)
  • Students will turn in their Historian Research Journals at the end of the less for assessment. To meet the full points students will need to meet the following: ● Answered the two research questions provided by the teacher in complete sentences. ● Made logical reasoning on why African American migrated North after segregation started taking place ● Were all four roles filled out with detailed that show standard comprehension of the topics?
Summative Assessment
(How does the lesson connect to planned summative assessment(s)?)
  • To meet standard SS.3.9, the students will address this standard during the lesson by analyzing primary sources and collaborating with the Historian role. The Historian questions focus on making a note of how African Americans were treated at the end of the 19th-century compare and contrast the treatment of a variety of demographic groups in the past and present. Standard SS.3.8 connected to the lesson through the role of the Political Scientist. This role focuses on answering how the people are treated by different social groups, and what overall happens when the different social groups interact with one another. Standard SS.3.16 is connected through primary source analysis, the debate of separate but equal, and the role of the Economist, and Geographer who research why people take risks to improve their lifestyle and needs. The primary source of the separate and non-segregated schools is motivation for parents to further their own child's education. The source displaying Kansas land for sale, also demonstrates that the promise of land and jobs are big motivators to move. Lastly, standard SS.3.24. Is connected to the lesson by having all students analyzed and explored the intended audience and purpose of the source that they are looking at. Having multiple different source hone in on the student skill to understand the context of the materials and the meaning behind it.
Author Information
Author Shelby McAllister Reviewer Dr. Chad Timm, Simpson College Created 08/18/2019 Last Edited 09/06/2019
Lesson Plan Development Notes: Social Studies Methods, Simpson College, Spring 2019

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