Jim Crow and Its Challengers (Teacher Seminar Online)

Jim Crow and Its Challengers

Lead Scholar: Nikki L. Brown, University of Kentucky
Master Teacher: Ziara Smith
Live Session Dates: Week of August 5
Registration Deadline: Monday, July 29


Image Source: NAACP, “Register and Vote” poster, Detroit, MI, 1965 (The Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History, GLC09623)

Poster urging voting to honor three martyrs of freedom
  • New for 2024

  • 22 PD Credits

Seminar Description

This seminar examines the rise, institutionalization, fall, and lasting impact of racial segregation laws in the United States. Participants will examine the period of Reconstruction and its attempt to bring black people (free and formerly enslaved) into the American fold, the growth and popularity of Jim Crow laws, and the ways African Americans mitigated, or tried to moderate, the worst excesses of these laws.

From the codification of Jim Crow laws in 1896 with the Supreme Court decision of Plessy v. Ferguson, participants will turn toward the twentieth century, especially the emergence of African American intellectuals across the political spectrum. Between 1900 and 1940, African American activism challenged systemic racism in many different ways, including promoting black business, exposing lynching and other racial violence, encouraging black migration, and granting national recognition to the work of African American women specifically. Turning internationally, this seminar will look at how World War II granted African Americans access to a world audience to express their grievances with Jim Crow. Finally, participants will look to the Civil Rights Movement and its many forms—legal, educational, political, and grassroots—and examine the ways the movement achieved its goals as well as failed to fulfill its promises.

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Live Zoom Sessions

Monday, August 5: 1:00 pm ET to 3:00 pm ET

  • Scholar Q&A
  • Pedagogy Session

Tuesday, August 6: 1:00 pm ET to 3:00 pm ET

  • Scholar Q&A

Wednesday, August 7: 1:00 pm ET to 3:00 pm ET

  • Scholar Q&A
  • Pedagogy Session

Thursday, August 8: 1:00 pm ET to 3:00 pm ET

  • Final Open Discussion

Project Team


Nikki L. Brown, Lead Scholar

Nikki Brown is an associate professor of history at the University of Kentucky. Her book, Private Politics and Public Voices: Black Women’s Activism from World War I to the New Deal (Indiana University Press, 2006) won the Letitia Woods Brown Award for best book in African American women’s history in 2006. The major themes in Brown’s work are gender, race, identity, representation, and politics. She is also a professional photographer and has recently completed a photography project on African American men in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina. Brown is currently working on a book about Louisiana’s Civil Rights Movement and is continuing work on an oral history of the Afro-Turks, the African descendants of slaves in the Ottoman Empire. She has served as a senior lecturer with the Fulbright/CIES Program and is the recipient of a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities.


Ziara Smith, Master Teacher

Ziara R. Smith is an experienced educator and curriculum consultant with a passion for justice-oriented education. Her educational pedagogy is rooted in the Ghanaian principle Sankofa, “go back and fetch” what has been lost or forgotten. Currently, Ziara is the adult education lead at Literacy MidSouth, in Memphis, Tennessee. She also serves as curriculum developer for the Children’s Defense Fund’s Freedom Schools summer literacy program. She has previously held positions at the University of Virginia’s Center for Race and Public Education in the South, at the Tennessee State Museum as a contributing curriculum developer, and as a middle school history teacher.  


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