United States History: 1865 to the Present

Reconstruction: 1865 to 1877


The student will demonstrate knowledge of the effects of Reconstruction on American life by


  • Begin the unit by asking what racial segregation is, how African Americans were discriminated against and how African Americans responded to discrimination and "Jim Crow" laws.
  • Explain that discrimination against African Americans continued after Reconstruction. "Jim Crow" laws institutionalized a system of legal segregation. African Americans differed in their responses to discrimination and "Jim Crow."
  • Explain that racial segregation was:
    • Based upon race
    • Directed primarily against African Americans, but other groups also were kept segregated
  • "Jim Crow" laws were passed to discriminate against African Americans.
  • "Jim Crow" laws
    • Made discrimination practices legal in many communities and states
    • Were characterized by unequal opportunities in housing, work, education, and government
  • African American response differed:
    • Booker T. Washington -- Believed equality could be achieved through vocational education; accepted social separation
    • W.E.B. Du Bois -- Believed in full political, civil, and social rights for African Americans
  • Explain to students how "Jim Crow" laws in the South legalized discrimination against African Americans after Reconstruction. Explain that organizations like the Ku Klux Klan were created after the Civil War to carry out a campaign of terrorism against African Americans and ensure white supremacy. To illustrate the topic, present a notable historical political cartoon by Thomas Nast that illustrates white society's effort to intimidate African Americans. The cartoon with the caption, "Armed White Man's Leaguer and Ku Klux Klan Member Shake Hands [over] a cowed African American Family" (October 1874), is available at http://www.csubak.edu/~gsantos/img0053.html.
  • Have the students read short biographies of African American leaders W. E. B. Du Bois and Booker T. Washington. Then have students read short passages from writings of the two leaders. "African Americans after Slavery" (Digital History, http://www.digitalhistory.uh.edu/historyonline/us22.cfm) offers selections from Washington and Du Bois, in addition to other information regarding the racial segregation and increased violence against African Americans after Reconstruction.
  • Have students develop a Vee Heuristic (sample below) that focuses on the question: How did Booker T. Washington and W. E. B. Du Bois differ in their perspectives of how African Americans should attempt to gain equal rights?
  • Vee Heuristic
  • A sample Vee Heuristic is illustrated above. Students place W. E. B. Du Bois at Position #1 and Booker T. Washington at Position #2. They then list the main points of each leader's position on the focus question.


History of "Jim Crow"

"Jim Crow" Laws

Rise and fall of "Jim Crow"

Booker T. Washington Era

Booker T. Washington

Biography of William Edward Burghardt DuBois

William Edward Burghardt DuBois


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