The Rise and Fall of Jim Crow A Century of Segregation
Jim Crow Stories
A National Struggle
Interactive Maps
Tools and Activities
For Teachers

Teen Leadership
Introduction Lesson 1 Lesson 2
Overview Teacher Activities Extensions and Connections Student Materials

Lesson Plan 2: Ida B. Wells
Ida B. Wells Grade Level: 8-10

Time Allotment: Three to four 45-minute class periods

Overview: The most recognizable figures from the American Civil Rights movement -- and those most well-known to students -- are individuals such as Martin Luther King, Jr., Rosa Parks, and Malcolm X. However, the African-American struggle for equality began long before the "modern" Civil Rights movement of the 1950s and 1960s. In this lesson, students will investigate individuals and events preceding the modern Civil Rights movement. Through the use of video and online primary source documents, students will become familiar with a key figure in African Americans' long struggle for equality: teacher and journalist Ida B. Wells. After examining Wells' life and work, students will have the opportunity to create their own persuasive letter or editorial on an issue of their choice.

Subject Matter: Social Studies and History

Learning Objectives:
Students will be able to:
  • explain how the modern Civil Rights movement was the culmination of a long struggle for African-American equality;
  • identify events and figures that shaped African-American history between the end of the Civil War and the 1950s;
  • describe the life and work of Ida B. Wells, a teacher, journalist, and "civil rights" activist at the end of the nineteenth and the beginning of the twentieth centuries;
  • create their own persuasive essay or editorial based on the anti-lynching writings of Ida B. Wells


From the National Standards for History, available online at

1e. The student thinks chronologically; therefore, the student is able to interpret data presented in time lines and create time lines by designating appropriate equidistant intervals of time and recording events according to the temporal order in which they occurred.

1f. The student thinks chronologically; therefore, the student is able to reconstruct patterns of historical succession and duration in which historical developments have unfolded, and apply them to explain historical continuity and change.

3d. Draw comparisons across eras and regions in order to define enduring issues as well as large-scale or long-term developments that transcend regional and temporal boundaries.

Era 1, Standard 2b. The student understands race relations and the struggle for equal rights; therefore, the student is able to explain the rising racial conflict in different regions, including the anti-Chinese movement in the West and the rise of lynching in the South. Students will analyze the arguments and methods by which various minority groups sought to acquire equal rights and opportunities guaranteed in the nation's charter documents.

Media Components:
THE RISE AND FALL OF JIM CROW, Episode 1: "Promises Betrayed"

Web Sites
Jim Crow Museum of Racist Memorabilia: What was Jim Crow?
This site details some of the many laws meant to insure white supremacy during the Jim Crow era. NOTE: Be advised that this site contains racial epithets and images that must be viewed in context.

African-American World: Timeline
This site, a portion of a larger African-American history site by New York public television station Thirteen/WNET, provides a multimedia timeline of African-American history.

Culture and Change: The Evolution of Black History
This site, produced by Scholastic, features an interactive timeline of African-American history.

Timeline of African-American History
This site, produced by the Library of Congress, also contains a timeline of African-American history.

Southern Horror: Lynch Law in All Its Phases
This site features the complete text of Ida B. Wells' 1892 pamphlet "Southern Horror: Lynch Law in All Its Phases."

For each student
"People and Events During Jim Crow" worksheet

For each group of four-five students
Dictionary (either hard copy or online)
Computer with Internet access

Prep for Teachers
Be advised that due to the subject matter of this lesson, some of the Web sites and video clips utilized contain racial epithets and vivid descriptions of violent events. Prior to teaching the lesson, please evaluate both the Web sites and the video to determine their suitability for your class.

Prior to teaching this lesson, bookmark all of the Web sites used in the lesson on each computer in your classroom. Cue Episode 1 of THE RISE AND FALL OF JIM CROW to the section about Ida B. Wells, which begins with color footage of a steam locomotive and train traveling across a field.

When using media, provide your students with a FOCUS FOR MEDIA INTERACTION, a specific task to complete and/or information to identify during or after viewing of video segments, Web sites, or other multimedia elements.

Teacher Activities
Extensions and Connections
Student Materials
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