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Teaching Guide

Teaching Civil Rights Movement: Desegregation

Shmoop history with the best of 'em.


Desegregation didn't just happen. Like any recipe for success, a bunch of ingredients had to be measured out and mixed together just perfectly. A scoop of Brown v. Board, a dash of Rosa Parks.

In this guide you will find

  • related reading from the 1950s and 1960s to put everything into context.
  • assignments analyzing the powerful images and persuasive documents of the time.
  • modern connections on how the achievements of Civil Rights heroes are still remembered today.

The fight for integration may have been a huge struggle, but learning about it doesn't have to be.

What's Inside Shmoop's History Teaching Guides

Shmoop is a labor of love from folks who love to teach. Our teaching guides will help you supplement in-classroom learning with fun, engaging, and relatable learning materials that bring history to life.

Inside each guide you'll find quizzes, activity ideas, discussion questions, and more—all written by experts and designed to save you time. Here are the deets on what you get with your teaching guide:

  • 3-5 Common Core-aligned activities (including quotation, image, and document analysis) to complete in class with your students, with detailed instructions for you and your students. 
  • Discussion and essay questions for all levels of students.
  • Reading quizzes to be sure students are looking at the material through various lenses.
  • Resources to help make the topic feel more relevant to your 21st-century students.
  • A note from Shmoop’s teachers to you, telling you what to expect from teaching the topic and how you can overcome the hurdles.

Instructions for You

In this exercise, your students will explore what it was like living under Jim Crow by listening to oral interviews.

1. Direct your students to this site, where they will find oral interviews with people who lived under Jim Crow. Instruct your students to listen to at least three interviews.

2. Debrief the students' listening. The following questions may be useful.

  • What did you discover?
    • What within these narratives was new information for you?
    • What was the most surprising piece of information?
    • What was the most outrageous?
  • How would you characterize the experience of living under Jim Crow?
    • Was it oppressive or just inconvenient?
    • What little things that we take for granted were not possible under Jim Crow?
  • What remnants of this world of Jim Crow still exist?

Instructions for Your Students

What was it like to live under Jim Crow? How oppressive were its unwritten (and written) rules? What adjustments were people forced to make in their daily lives? What lessons were young people forced to learn?

Go to this page and listen to at least one of the oral interviews in each category. Think about how the world described compares with your own life. Think about what has changed and, perhaps, what has not.

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Check out all the different parts of our corresponding learning guide.

Intro    Summary & Analysis    Timeline    People    Facts    Photos    Best of the Web    Citations    
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