This mini-lesson covers the basics of the Supreme Court’s decision that it was constitutional to keep black and white people segregated as long as the accommodations for each race were “equal.”  Students learn about the concept of “separate but equal,” the reasons the Court found the doctrine acceptable, and the fact that the doctrine was not abolished until the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Students compare arguments from the Plessy case and the later case Brown v. Board of Education, and they consider whether the Brown court would have decided in Plessy’s favor.


Partner Resources for this Lesson Plan include:

Plessy v. Ferguson - Middle School - on Nearpod



  • Define the “Separate Car Act.”
  • Describe the 14th Amendment right to equal protection under the law.
  • Identify the main arguments put forth in the case.
  • Describe the Supreme Court’s decision and analysis.
  • Identify the impact of the Court’s decision on the issue of segregation.
  • Compare the Court’s reasoning in Plessy to the reasoning in Brown v. Board of Education.


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