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New Jim Crow Lesson 3

Slavery As a Form of Racialized Social Control

Hello and welcome to Lesson 3 of the Teach Tolerance Lesson Plan for the New Jim Crow. Michelle Alexander was inspired to write The New Jim Crow while working as a civil rights lawyer at the ACLU, and you can read her interview with Teaching Tolerance : A Conversation with Michelle Alexander . Teach Tolerance’s mission is to Discover and develop world-class materials with a community of educators committed to diversity, equity and justice.

” It may be impossible to overstate the significance of race in defining the basic structure of American society “


Each lesson will focus on a particular chapter and will be guided by essential questions, and that the book itself has three overarching essentials questions ..

  • How does the U.S. criminal justice system create and maintain racial hierarchy though mass incarceration?
  • How does the current system of mass incarceration in the United States mirror earlier systems of racialized social control?
  • What is needed to end mass incarceration and permanently eliminate racial caste in the United States?

Throughout its history, the United States has been structured by a racial caste system. From slavery, to Jim Crow to mass incarceration, these forms of racialized social control reinvented themselves to meet the needs of the dominant social class according to the constraints of each era.

Essential Questions

  • How did slavery function as a mechanism of racialized social control?
  • How did racial hierarchy adapt and persist after Emancipation?

Tier II & III Vocabulary

  • Amnesty – the act of an authority (such as a government) by which pardon is granted to a large group of individuals.
  • Antebellum – existing before a war; especially existing before the American Civil War.
  • Bondsmen – slaves
  • Chattle Slavery – The condition in which one person is owned as property by another and is under the owner’s control, especially in involuntary servitude.
  • Emancipation – an act of setting someone free from control or slavery.
  • Enslavement – the action of making someone a slave; subjugation.
  • Federalism – the division of power between the states and the federal government.
  • Indentured Servant – placed under contract to work for another over a period of time, usually seven years, especially during the 17th to 19th centuries.
  • Insurrection – an act or instance of revolting against civil authority or an established government.
  • Oppression – unjust or cruel exercise of authority or power.
  • Plantation – an estate on which crops such as coffee, sugar, and tobacco are cultivated by resident labor.
  • Reconstruction Era –  refers to the period following the Civil War of rebuilding the United States. Restored the seceded states back to the Union. Three amendments approved: 13, 14, and 15 amendment
  • Segregation – the action or state of setting someone or something apart from other people or things or being set apart.

Warm Up

Exercise 1. Video; Based on Douglas A. Blackmon’s book by the same name, this documentary tells the forgotten history of forced labor and brutality that continued after the Civil War and the end of chattel slavery. The entire documentary, as well as the accompanying educational materials and resources, are available online.

Video: Slavery By Another Name – PBS
Pollard, Sam, Sheila Curran Bernard, Laurence Fishburne, Jason L. Pollard, Andrew Young, Michael Bacon, and Douglas A. Blackmon. Slavery by Another Name. DVD. Directed by Sam Pollard. Boston: PBS Distribution, 2012. http://www.pbs.org/tpt/slavery-by-another-name/home/.

Exercise 2. Before we get started or into the guided reading consider the last two lessons and our last guided reading. In your head , or if you want to write it down and later participate in the comments – complete the following prompts “Something I know … ,”   “Something I believe … ” and “Something I wonder … ” about each of the following (totaling nine responses):

  1. race
  2. racism
  3. slavery

Chapter 1, Part 1

Exercise 1: As we go through the Chapter 1 excerpt: “Slavery as a Form of Racialized Social Control”, think about the following questions

  1. How are categories of race were socially constructed as a method of controlling slaves and perpetuating the institution of chattel slavery?
  2. How was slavery maintained by systematically preventing white and black members of poor and lower classes from forming alliances?
  3. where can we begin to trace the evolution of racial hierarchy after emancipation?

Guided Reading: Lesson 3

Guided Reading Critical Thinking Questions: https://www.tolerance.org/print/86576/print

Exercise 2 :  Chapter 1 is called “The Rebirth of Caste.” In this chapter, Alexander provides an historical overview to illustrate the persistence of racial hierarchy and the evolution of racial caste systems in the United States. Plot what you have learned in this lesson onto the Rebirth of Caste graphic organizer. The list below will help you get started:

  • Bacon’s Rebellion
  • chattel slavery
  • Civil War
  • demand for cheap labor
  • Emancipation
  • racial bribe of white supremacy
  • Reconstruction Era 

Exercise 3 : Returning to the Warm-Up exercise responses ,  “I know … , I wonder … , I believe … ” consider the questions below and feel free to participate in the comments. Remember: Be Kind, Be Polite, Be Respectful.

  1. Has anything you thought you knew changed? Explain.
  2. Have any of your beliefs changed? Explain.
  3. Were any of the things you wondered about answered? Explain.
  4. What new questions do you have?

Full Audio: Chapter 3

Chapter 1 Endnotes
1. For an excellent analysis of the development of race as a social construct in the
United States and around the globe, see Howard Winant, The World Is a Ghetto: Race and Democracy Since World War II (New York: Basic Books, 2001).
2. Lerone Bennett Jr., The Shaping of Black America (Chicago: Johnson, 1975), 62.
3. C. Vann Woodward, The Strange Career of Jim Crow (1955; reprint, New
York: Oxford University Press, 2001).
4. William Cohen, At Freedom’s Edge: Black Mobility and the Southern White Quest for Racial Control (Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 1991), 28.
5. Ibid., 33.
6. See Michael Klarman, From Jim Crow to Civil Rights: The Supreme Court and the Struggle for Racial Equality (New York: Oxford University Press, 2004), 49, 52–53