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Introduction: Civil Rights Court Cases

  1. Break your class into small groups (or pairs) and give each group a Court Timeline Card. If you want to get students moving, you could copy the cards onto different colored paper, place them around the room, and ask students to pick them up and then get in line chronologically based on the year of their court case.
  2. Have each group/pair discuss the case on their Court Timeline Card and consider why their case is important in civil rights history. In deciding why their case is important your students may want to think about the following questions: Did it set a precedent that had an impact on African Americans? Did it change or reverse a precedent that had an impact on African Americans? What effect does this case still have on our lives today, if any?
  3. Have the groups put their Court Timeline Cards (back) in order, either by lining them up chronologically again, or by clipping the cards with paper clips or clothes pins to a piece of yarn or a clothesline strung in the front of the room. Once the cards are in order, have each group share with the class the following information about their court case: the decision, why it is important, and any Jewish role.
  4. After your students have returned to their seats, explain that in addition to moments of personal resistance, the earliest work to gain civil rights for African Americans was through the courts.
  5. Discuss the following questions with your class:
    • Why do you think so many of these cases dealt with education? Why is equality of education so important?
    • Segregation in public schools and universities in the South was instituted by law. Think about how you have segregation without laws. What are some examples?
  6. Write the words "de facto segregation" and "de jure segregation" on the board or on chart paper. Define both terms for your class. Have students give some possible examples and list them under the appropriate term.

How to cite this page

Jewish Women's Archive. "Introduction: Civil Rights Court Cases." (Viewed on December 8, 2023) <https://jwa.org/node/11836>.


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