Lesson Plans



Download the Exhibition Preparatory Guide and  Lesson Plan here

Subject Areas

Social studies, American History, African American History

Core Exhibition Concept

Black educators were early pioneers of the civil rights movement in the later Jim Crow period (1920-1960).


In this class/these classes, students will gain the necessary contextual knowledge and tools to best prepare them for a trip to the Black Educators: Florida’s Secret Social Justice Advocates, 1920-1960 exhibition. This lesson plan can alternatively function as a stand-alone unit for those who cannot attend.

This lesson plan focuses on the Jim Crow South and methods of resistance by black educators. Students will participate in discussions facilitated by the instructor and practice textual primary source analysis.

Context and Educator Resources for Further Reading

During the Jim Crow era, educators and students alike in black school systems faced a number of hurdles that their white contemporaries did not. From 1920 to 1960, black teachers in Florida and in other areas of segregated America organized and educated as a method of resistance and empowerment. Often forced to operate covertly, these educators developed a unique methodology and philosophy for teaching black youth and fought for better resources and opportunities in their school systems and communities.

The following resources provide further context for teachers preparing to teach the content of this guide.

This section of the book outlines the history of African-American educators, including Fultz, and how they contributed. The chapter accounts for a number of other key figures and their histories.

Reference reading about the history of the changes in the way race was taught and experienced in school since the Brown v. Board of Education decision in 1954.

Introduction section of this book gives overview on both Northern and Southern black educators and scholars who fought for and researched black education during desegregation. The entirety of the book focuses on both the history of education before this point and after into higher education as well.

Fairclough’s article discusses black teachers in during the period of school integration. This work gives an overview of the period’s history and the role teachers and education played in the era of civil rights, as well as the problems they faced.

“Moore’s Bio” tab: This source provides biographical information about Harry T. Moore, a Florida teacher, principal, and political activist. His participation in the NAACP led to his dismissal from his teaching job, and ultimately his death.

“Moore’s Legacy” tab: Provides further contextualization about Harry T. Moore within the Civil Rights Movement.

This essay provides an overview of the state of African American schools under Jim Crow segregation.

This website complies primary and secondary materials focused on teachers’ roles in ending school segregation. Topics include salary equalization, attacks on teachers because of their activism, and the clandestine nature of much teacher activism.

Randolph’s article discusses the institutional structures that black educators faced during this period that white educators did not. The piece examines the successes of educational leaders in teaching

Lesson Objectives

By the end of this class, students will able to:

  • Understand the Jim Crow period and its effects on African American education
  • Recognize the difference between perception (dilapidated schoolhouses, underprepared teachers, invisible system) and the realities of African American education
  • Describe ways in which African Americans resisted, organized, and used education as a tool for empowerment
  • Understand the importance of equal access to education / education’s broader role in society
  • Recognize that these stories largely predate the conventional Civil Rights Movement narratives, e.g. Rosa Parks refusing to give up her bus seat as a catalyst
  • Analyze a primary source

Suggested Grade Level

This lesson is written for grades 6-12.

Suggested Unit of Study

Jim Crow South

Civil Rights

Estimated Time Required

2 class periods


This may be shortened to 1 class period.



Background Information (Day 1)

These items should be read by students in class. These resources will give broader national context.

This lesson plan can be adapted to fit a one-day schedule by having students read these sources for homework before the day 2 class. This section is customizable by grade level.

In this primary source, W.E.B. Du Bois argues that, theoretically, whether African Americans attend segregated or integrated schools is irrelevant. What matters is that African Americans receive a quality education.

  • “Only A Teacher: Teaching Timeline.” PBS Online. http://www.pbs.org/onlyateacher/timeline.html [Sections on “Unions,” “1910s to 1930s: Progressivism,” “1930s to 1960s: Relative Calm,” and “Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka, Kansas 1954.”] (grades 6-8)

This secondary source provides a timeline of educational history in the United States. It is useful in helping to students to understand the major changes happening during this time in educational practice and policy, as well as educator labor movements.

This secondary source includes a general overview of the laws defining the Jim Crow Era. This will provide students with a wider national context and legal history that will frame these discussions about the state of Florida’s race relations during this period.

This primary source is a history of Lincoln High School, the school for African American children in Gainesville, Florida. This provides insight into the experiences of the educators and students in this school system.

Primary sources (Day 2)

In this letter, Harry T. Moore expresses gratitude to a senator who stood against a bill that would perpetuate school segregation.

This report features data about the status of African American Education. The section on Florida includes data concerning legal actions, organizations, enrollment, and teacher salary, which will help to illustrate the realities of teaching in these school systems. The section could also be compared to different states for a clearer understanding of how education in Florida differed from other locations.

This newspaper article discusses the Florida Education Association and issues surrounding teacher pay, teacher shortages, and race. It gives insight into educator labor organizing and the quality of education in Florida.


The following links provide worksheets that students will use during their primary source analysis. There are two variations to allow for the activity to be adapted for different grade levels and language skills.

Primary Source Analysis Worksheets

https://www.archives.gov/files/education/lessons/worksheets/written_document_analysis_worksheet_novice.pdf (Suggested for grades 6-8 or those learning English)

https://www.archives.gov/files/education/lessons/worksheets/written_document_analysis_worksheet.pdf (Suggested for grades 9-12)


Class Structure

Day 1

  1. 20-minute teacher lecture on context of Jim Crow South, school segregation, and black educational philosophies.
  2. For the first 5 minutes of class, have students break into pairs and discuss the following question:
  3. What do you think it was like to be a student or teacher in an African American school system?
  4. Teacher explains the difference between primary and secondary sources prior to handing out background source readings.
  5. Students read the background sources.
  6. For last 10 minutes of class, students should split into pairs to discuss the following questions:
  7. What challenges did educators in the African American community face?
  8. How does this story relate to your own community?


Day 2

  1. Break students out into three groups. Each group will read one of the primary sources. Students will then fill out the primary source worksheets as groups. Give students 25 minutes to do this.
  2. Facilitate a class dialogue on the primary sources using the following discussion questions:
  3. Share what your group’s primary source is with the class.
  4. What did you notice about your primary sources?
  5. How does your primary source relate to the others?
  6. How did your perception/understanding change after reading these primary sources?
  7. How do these sources illustrate the ways in which African Americans resisted and organized against the Jim Crow system?
  8. Why was education an important part of resistance for African American educators?
  9. How do these narratives/stories relate to later Civil Rights movements, to your community, and the American education system today?



Information about Florida educational standards can be found here: http://www.cpalms.org/Public/.



SS.912.A.1.2  Utilize a variety of primary and secondary sources to identify author, historical significance, audience, and authenticity to understand a historical period. Use research and inquiry skills to analyze American history using primary and secondary sources. Social Studies 9-12 American History
SS.912.A.1.7  Describe various socio-cultural aspects of American life including arts, artifacts, literature, education, and publications. Use research and inquiry skills to analyze American history using primary and secondary sources. Social Studies 9-12 American History
SS.912.A.2.5  Assess how Jim Crow Laws influenced life for African Americans and other racial/ethnic minority groups. Understand the causes, course, and consequences of the Civil War and Reconstruction and its effects on the American people. Social Studies 9-12 American History
SS.912.A.5.7  Examine the freedom movements that advocated civil rights for African Americans, Latinos, Asians, and women. Analyze the effects of the changing social, political, and economic conditions of the Roaring Twenties and the Great Depression. Social Studies 9-12 American History
SS.912.A.5.8  Compare the views of Booker T. Washington, W.E.B. DuBois, and Marcus Garvey relating to the African American experience. Analyze the effects of the changing social, political, and economic conditions of the Roaring Twenties and the Great Depression. Social Studies 9-12 American History
SS.912.A.5.10  Analyze support for and resistance to civil rights for women, African Americans, Native Americans, and other minorities. Analyze the effects of the changing social, political, and economic conditions of the Roaring Twenties and the Great Depression. Social Studies 9-12 American History
SS.912.A.5.12  Examine key events and people in Florida history as they relate to United States history. Analyze the effects of the changing social, political, and economic conditions of the Roaring Twenties and the Great Depression. Social Studies 9-12 American History
SS.912.A.7.7  Assess the building of coalitions between African Americans, whites, and other groups in achieving integration and equal rights. Understand the rise and continuing international influence of the United States as a world leader and the impact of contemporary social and political movements on American life. Social Studies 9-12 American History
SS.912.A.3.9  Examine causes, course, and consequences of the labor movement in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Analyze the transformation of the American economy and the changing social and political conditions in response to the Industrial Revolution. Social Studies 9-12 American History


You may download the Exhibition Preparatory Guide and Lesson Plan here.