The Role of Lawyers in the Civil Rights Movement in Mississippi Lesson Plan

Sarah C. Campbell

Students Will

  • Explore key Black lawyers in Mississippi’s Civil Rights movement
  • Analyze court cases important to Mississippi’s civil rights history
  • Create visuals contextualizing the court cases, a chosen lawyer, and their importance in Mississippi history


  • Computer/tablet with internet access
  • Paper and writing utensils
  • Butcher paper
  • Colored pencils/markers/crayons

Curricular Connections

Mississippi College- and Career-Readiness Standards for the Social Studies

Mississippi Studies

  • MS.7.1 – Analyze the significant figures, groups, events, and strategies of the Civil Rights Movement in Mississippi. 

US History: 1877 to Present

  • US.11.3 - Explain contributions of individuals and groups to the modern Civil Rights Movement, including: Martin Luther King, Jr., James Meredith, Medgar Evers, Thurgood Marshall, the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC), the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC), the Congress of Racial Equality (CORE), the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), and the civil rights foot soldiers. 

Teaching Levels

Grades 8 through 12

Before the Lesson

  1. Students will read The Role of Lawyers in the Civil Rights Movement in Mississippi and the Mississippi Encyclopedia article on R. Jess Brown, Carsie A. Hall, and Jack H. Young, Sr.


  1. The teacher will ask students about the importance of court cases to the Mississippi Civil Rights Movement, according to the assigned readings.  
  2. The teacher will ask students questions (suggestions provided) related to the articles and previous lessons. The class will then discuss those potential answers, with evidence from previous lessons or the readings. 
    • Why were so few lawyers willing to take on civil rights cases in Mississippi? 
    • Why did the three Black lawyers you read about frequently work with out-of-state lawyers?  
    • How successful were the three Black lawyers you read about? 
  3. The teacher will then instruct each student to research court cases that the three Black lawyers were involved in. Students can select court cases mentioned in the article or research the lawyers to find cases. Each student will take that information and create a general timeline of the court cases. The timeline should be brief, as this step is to give students a cursory understanding of a breadth of cases. Suggestions for information students can list on the timeline: 
    • Name of case 
    • Lawyers on the case (identifying prosecution v. defense) 
    • Outcome of the case 
  4. Students will each then select one court case to more thoroughly research, providing a detailed synopsis that can be presented to the class or typed up and displayed. Students should also detail the ongoing impact of the court case, connecting it to the modern day if plausible. 
  5. Students can then take their detailed case synopses and, using butcher paper and colored pencils/markers/crayons, create a class-wide timeline with more detailed information.