Jim Crow Laws and African American Discrimination

In these lessons, students will examine the origins of the “Jim Crow” character as well as the impacts the laws had on African Americans and other members of society at the turn of the 20th century.

Standards & Objectives

Academic standards
Assess the economic and social impact of Jim Crow laws on African Americans.
Summarize the Civil Rights Movement in Tennessee, including the integration of Clinton High School, sit-ins in Nashville, and the activities of Diane Nash and Jim Lawson.
Analyze the impact of immigration and migration on the lives of African Americans in contemporary America.
Analyze what a text says explicitly and draw inferences; support an interpretation of a text by citing and synthesizing relevant textual evidence from...
Determine multiple central ideas of a text or texts and analyze their development; provide a critical summary.
Analyze what a text says explicitly and draw logical inferences; support an interpretation of a text by citing relevant textual evidence.
Determine a central idea of a text and analyze its development over the course of the text, including its relationship to supporting ideas; provide an...
Analyze what a text says explicitly and draw inferences; cite the strongest, most compelling textual evidence to support conclusions.
Determine a central idea of a text and analyze its development; provide an objective or critical summary.
Explain the impact of the Hayes-Tilden Presidential election of 1876 and the end ofcReconstruction on African Americans, including Jim Crow laws, lynching,...
Describe significant events in the struggle to secure civil rights for African Americans, including the following:
Alignment of this item to academic standards is based on recommendations from content creators, resource curators, and visitors to this website. It is the responsibility of each educator to verify that the materials are appropriate for your content area, aligned to current academic standards, and will be beneficial to your specific students.
Learning objectives: 

The learner will:

  • Listen to and examine a version of the Jump Jim Crow” song that popularized the caricature of Jim Crow.
  • Research Jim Crow era racism and discrimination on the Library of Congress Web site.
  • Examine newspaper articles for evidence of Jim Crow laws and their discrimination.
  • Write a short paragraph detailing the Jim Crow laws and their effects.
Essential and guiding questions: 
  • Where did the term "Jim Crow" originate and why is it associated with racist laws near the beginning of the 20th century?
  • What kinds of discrimination did African Americans face during this time period as a result of the Jim Crow laws and how did it impact their lives? How did it impact the lives of non-African Americans?

Lesson Variations

Blooms taxonomy level: 
Extension suggestions: 
  • Students can visit “The African-American Experience in Ohio” at http://dbs.ohiohistory.org/africanam/html/. This Web site chronicles several examples of Jim Crow era racism. As the Web site states, “This selection of manuscript and printed text and images drawn from the collections of the Ohio Historical Society illuminates the history of black Ohio from 1850 to 1920, a story of slavery and freedom, segregation and integration, religion and politics, migrations and restrictions, harmony and discord, and struggles and successes.” Have the students search keywords from both days’ lessons using the search tool on the page.Then, have them print out their favorite selection to share with the rest of the class accompanied by a few sentences summarizing how it relates to both days’ lessons.
  • Students may also interview their grandparents or older friends they know that grew up amongst the civil rights activism of the 1950s and 60s. Have them record or transcribe the interview and share with the class the personal stories from these individuals.

Helpful Hints


  • Primary Source Analysis Tool
  • Computers
  • Handout of “Jump Jim Crow” lyrics
  • Primary Source Set —Jim Crow in America