Plessy, Washington, and DuBois us history/Napp Name: Do Now

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Plessy, Washington, and DuBois

US History/Napp Name: _________________

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Plessy v. Ferguson, 1896

Booker T. Washington

W.E.B. DuBois

  1. Plessy, a racially mixed man, sat in a railroad car where only whites were permitted.

  2. He was arrested for violating a state law that provided “separate but equal” facilities for non-whites.

  3. Plessy said this law violated his “equal protection” rights under the 14th Amendment.

  4. The Supreme Court held that so long as a state provided “equal” facilities, it could legally separate African Americans from whites.

  5. The decision allowed the continuation of “separate but equal” facilities – resulting in whites and African Americans attending different schools, using different water fountains, and bathing in different public beaches.

~ The Key to Understanding U.S. History and Government

  1. Booker T. Washington was born into slavery in 1856.

  2. In 1881, he founded the Tuskegee Institute in Alabama.

  3. In 19011, he wrote Up From Slavery, an autobiography.

  4. Washington believed that African Americans should first concentrate their efforts on trying to achieve economic independence before seeking full social equality.

  5. He believed economic prosperity could best be achieved by vocational training and practical, job-related education.

  6. He wanted young African Americans to develop skills and attitudes that would help them to survive in an environment of increasing violence and discrimination.

  1. W.E.B. DuBois was the first African American to obtain a Ph.D. from Harvard University and became a notable historian and writer.

  2. Unlike Booker T. Washington, DuBois urged the next generation of African Americans to move in a new direction.

  3. DuBois believed African Americans should agitate for full social and political equality immediately and not rest content with an inferior social and economic status.

  4. In his writings, DuBois encouraged African Americans not to define themselves as whites saw them, but to take pride in their dual heritages – as both Africans and Americans.

  5. In 1909, he helped form the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (N.A.A.C.P.) – to win rights through the courts.

  1. Who was Plessy and why was he arrested? ________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

  2. What Amendment did Plessy state was being violated? Why? ________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

  3. What did the Supreme Court rule at the time? ________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

  4. What did the Court’s decision allow? ________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

  5. Who was Booker T. Washington and what was significant about his early years? ________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

  6. What book did Booker T. Washington write? ________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

  7. What did Booker T. Washington found? ________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

  8. What did Booker T. Washington believe African Americans should focus on first? ________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

  9. How did Booker T. Washington believe economic prosperity could be achieved? ________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

  10. Who was W.E.B. DuBois and why was he significant? ________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

  11. What did W.E.B. DuBois believe? ________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

  12. How did the ideas of W.E.B. DuBois differ from the ideas of Booker T. Washington? ________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

  13. How did W.E.B. DuBois encourage African Americans to see themselves? ________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

  14. What organization did W.E.B. DuBois help found? ________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

  15. Given the circumstances at the time, who would you have agreed with: Booker T. Washington or W.E.B. Dubois? Why? ________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

  16. What is most surprising about the information presented in the chart? Why? ________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Multiple-Choice Questions:

  1. The Supreme Court decision in Plessy v. Ferguson (1896) affected African Americans by

(1) granting voting rights

(2) expanding civil rights

(3) upholding racial segregation

(4) guaranteeing equal wages

  1. Which statement best describes how the status of African Americans in the South changed soon after the end of Reconstruction in 1877?

(1) The Supreme Court consistently supported civil rights for African Americans.

(2) Poll taxes and literacy tests were eliminated for African Americans.

(3) Increasing numbers of African Americans were elected to public office.

(4) African Americans faced increasing discrimination and segregation.

  1. The Supreme Court decision in the case of Plessy v. Ferguson (1896) affected civil rights in the United States by

(1) ruling that segregated public schools were unconstitutional

(2) rejecting the legal basis of Jim Crow laws

(3) approving racial segregation in public facilities

(4) strengthening the protections of the 14th amendment

  1. The formation of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) and the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) was primarily a response to

(1) racism and prejudice

(2) nationalism and patriotism

(3) abolition and temperance

5. One idea that both Booker T. Washington and W. E. B. Du Bois supported is that

(1) African Americans should have increased civil rights

(2) vocational training was the best approach to education

(3) immigration was responsible for racial


(4) Jim Crow laws were needed to help African Americans
6. In the ten years following the Civil War, a large numbers of former slaves earned a living by becoming

(1) conductors on the Underground Railroad

(2) workers in Northern factories

(3) sharecroppers on Southern farms

(4) gold miners in California
7. The Supreme Court decision in Plessy v.

Ferguson (1896) had a major impact on the lives of African Americans because it ruled that

(1) segregation was illegal in educational


(2) voting was a right guaranteed by the


(3) separate but equal public facilities were legal

(4) military occupation of the South was

8. Following Reconstruction, the passage of Jim Crow laws in the South limited the effectiveness of

(1) the 14th and 15th amendments

(2) the Freedmen’s Bureau

(3) Black Codes

(4) tenant farming and sharecropping

Primary Source:

Plessy v. Ferguson, 163 U.S. 537 (1896)
In Plessy v. Ferguson the Supreme Court held that the state of Louisiana did not violate the Fourteenth Amendment by establishing and enforcing a policy of racial segregation in its railway system. Justice John Marshall Harlan wrote a memorable dissent to that decision.”

Source: McKenna, George, ed. A Guide to the Constitution That Delicate Balance (New York, 1984), pp. 384-386. ~
Judge Harlan’s dissent
It was said in argument that the statute of Louisiana does not discriminate against either race but prescribes a rule applicable alike to white and colored citizens. But this argument does not meet the difficulty. Everyone knows that the statues in question had its origin in the purpose, not so much to exclude white persons from railroad cars occupied by blacks, as to exclude colored people from coaches occupied by or assigned to white persons. Railroad corporations of Louisiana did not make discrimination among whites in the matter of accommodation for travellers. The thing to accomplish was, under the guise of giving equal accommodations for whites and blacks, to compel the latter to keep to themselves while travelling in railroad passenger coaches. No one would be so wanting in candor as to assert the contrary. The fundamental objection, therefore, to the statues is that it interferes with the personal freedom of citizens....If a white man and a black man choose to occupy the same public conveyance on a public highway, it is their right to do so, and no government, proceeding alone on grounds of race, can prevent it without infringing the personal liberty of each....
The white race deems itself to be the dominant race in this country. And so it is, in prestige, in achievements, in education, in wealth, and in power. So, I doubt not, it will continue to be for all time, if it remains true to its great heritage and holds fast to the principles of constitutional liberty. But in the view of the Constitution, in the eye of the law, there is in this country no superior, dominant, ruling class of citizens. There is no caste here. Our Constitution in color-blind and neither knows nor tolerates classes among citizens. In respect of civil rights, all citizens are equal before the law. The humblest is the peer of the most powerful. The law regards man as man and takes no account of his surroundings or of his color when his civil rights as guaranteed by the supreme law of the land are involved…
The arbitrary separation of citizens, on the basis of race, while they are on a public highway, is a badge of servitude wholly inconsistent with the civil freedom and the equality before the law established by the Constitution. It cannot be justified upon any legal grounds.”


  1. What does Judge Harlan believe is the basis for Louisiana’s segregation? ________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

  2. What is the fundamental objection to the Louisiana statue? ________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

  3. What does Judge Harlan mean when he writes that the Constitution is color-blind? ________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

  4. What is Judge Harlan’s conclusion about “the arbitrary separation of citizens”? ________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

  5. Explain your position on this issue. ________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Analyze the following image:


  1. What does this image reveal about Jim Crow segregation? ________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

  2. How does this image support Judge Harlan’s dissent? ________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

  3. Can separate ever be equal? Explain your answer. ________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

  4. Identify Americans who challenged segregation: ________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

A Professor’s Perspective on Teaching about Jim Crow Segregation:

Displaying photos of segregated water fountains utterly fails to convey how Jim Crow’s long reign shaped life for generations of African American and white Southerners. Whether in neighborhood stores or on public sidewalks, segregation established an intricate set of rules to govern every kind of interracial contact that were reinforced by its repeated daily humiliations. Laws and practices that assigned African American laborers the most menial and lowest-paying jobs and kept them out of labor unions ensured their economic subordination.

White newspapers stirred fears of black criminality and white police often arrested black people for the most minor infractions. As the primary source from the Cleveland Advocate in 1918 suggests, all-white juries and white judges punished African Americans more severely than whites, even when whites had committed the greater crime...More broadly, Southern courts sentenced a disproportionate number of African Americans to chain gangs and prison.
Segregation literally rendered African American life less valuable than white life. Black Southerners had higher mortality rates, for example, because they lived in areas where white officials did not invest in improving sanitation and because the lack of public spending on health services for black people typically meant fewer hospitals and treatment options. An untold number of black adults and black children died as a result.”

~ Katherine Mellen Charron [Associate Professor of History at North Carolina State University];

  1. Why does Professor Charron believe that “displaying photographs of segregated water fountains utterly fail to convey how Jim Crow’s long reign shaped life for generations of African Americans”? ________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

  2. What examples does Professor Charron provide that demonstrate the oppression of African Americans under Jim Crow segregation? ________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

  3. How does this reading passage increase your understanding of Jim Crow segregation? ________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

  4. What then might be a more effective way to teach the effects of Jim Crow segregation on African Americans? Explain your answer. ________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

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