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New Jim Crow Lesson 4

Jim Crow as a Form of Racialized Social Control

Hello and welcome to Lesson 4 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.

Essential Questions

  • How did racial caste reinvent itself after Emancipation?
  • How did Jim Crow function as a mechanism of racialized social control?
  • How did racial hierarchy adapt and persist after desegregation?

Tier II and III Vocabulary

  • Disenfranchisedeprive (someone) of the right to vote
  • Dismantle –  to break apart a machine or structure to pieces
  • Disproportionatetoo large or too small in comparison with something else
  • Equilibriuma state in which opposing forces or influences are balanced
  • Explicitstated clearly and in detail, leaving no room for confusion or doubt
  • Exploitationthe action or fact of treating someone unfairly in order to benefit from their work
  • Migrationmovement from one part of something to another
  • Miscegenationthe interbreeding of people considered to be of different racial types
  • Ostracismexclusion from a society or group
  • Repressionthe action of subduing someone or something by force
  • Subjugation – To bring under control, especially by military force; conquer.


Warm Up

Exercise 1: A lesson series that follows the history of the vote—from a time when only land-owning white men had the right through the 20th century struggle to achieve universal suffrage.

Video: Expanding Voting Rights | Teaching Tolerance
Teaching Tolerance Staff. “Expanding Voting Rights.” Teaching Tolerance.

Exercise 2: Before we get started 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. the 13th Amendment
  2. Jim Crow
  3. Brown v. Board of Education

Chapter 1, Part 2

Exercise 1 : This lesson focuses on a subsection of Chapter 1, “The Rebirth of Caste,” in which Alexander discusses Jim Crow as a form of racialized social control. Excerpt here : “Jim Crow as a Form of Racialized Social Control” , while we are reading consider the following…

  1. Describe white resistance to Reconstruction and the search by white elites for a new racial order after slavery in your own words in your head or on a notepad.
  2. How Jim Crow functioned as a racial caste system?
  3. How Jim Crow segregation was dismantled?
  4. What are some predictions, grounded in the text, about how white elites established a new racial order after the civil rights movement?

Guided Reading : Lesson 4

Guided Reading Critical Thinking Questions:

Exercise 2: Return to your warm-up “I know … , I wonder … , I believe … ” responses and respond. 

  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 1

1 David M. Oshinsky, Worse Than Slavery: Parchman Farm and the Ordeal of Jim Crow Justice (New York: Free Press Paperbacks, 1996), 63.
2. William Julius Wilson, The Declining Significance of Race: Blacks and Changing American Institutions (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1978), 54.
3 C. Vann Woodward, The Strange Career of Jim Crow (1955; reprint, New York: Oxford University Press, 2001), 7.
4 Stephen F. Lawson, Black Ballots: Voting Rights in the South, 1944–1969 (New York: Columbia University Press, 1976), 300, 321, 329, 331.