Understanding Jim Crow

Understanding the systems of racial separation and institutionalized segregation that are known as Jim Crow is essential for understanding the setting of To Kill A Mockingbird. In this activity, watch the video “Understanding Jim Crow” and use connection questions to better grasp the time and setting of To Kill A Mockingbird.

This is Handout 3.2 from Teaching Mockingbird. It has been renamed.




Connection Questions

Use the following questions to guide your note-taking and reflection on the video “Understanding Jim Crow (Setting the Setting)”.

  1. David Cunningham describes Jim Crow segregation as both a system of laws and a system of customs. What is the difference between laws and customs? Which are more difficult to change?
  2. Why did Mississippi and Alabama have fewer formal Jim Crow laws than other states in the South?
  3. In what ways did black and white lives overlap in Alabama in the 1930s? In what ways were they completely separated?
  4. What was the effect of the Depression on the relationships between whites and blacks in the Jim Crow South? Why?
  5. What were some of the unwritten rules of segregation? What were some of the complications around those rules?
  6. How were gender roles different between white and black Americans?
  7. What were the consequences of questioning Jim Crow? How do you think they were different for blacks and whites?
  8. How did this video help shed light on written and unwritten rules of life in Maycomb? What characters, choices, and events in the book so far did this video help you better understand?

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