Web Quest Teacher’s Guide: “Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness”

The Advancement of African Americans
in the world of Education


  • The students will examine the fundamental ideals and principles that form the foundation of our republican form of government including unalienable rights (“life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness”), the rule of law, justice, and equality under the law.
  • The students will identify examples from history of conflicts over rights, how those conflicts were resolved, and the important people who helped resolve them.
  • The students will process, store, retrieve, and transmit electronic information by using search strategies to retrieve electronic information using a database.

SOL correlation

Civics 3.11, 3.13 Technology: C/T5.3.

Time Needed

2 -4 class periods.

Resources Needed

Teacher Preparation

  • In order to gain a better perspective on the way African-Americans were viewed in regard to educational issues, specifically the Jim Crow laws, the teacher should read the essay entitled Jackson Davis and the Lost World of Jim Crow Education found here.
  • Read the Declaration of Independence:, specifically the first two paragraphs, which can be found at : http://www.law.indiana.edu/uslawdocs/declaration.htm


Warm Up Activity

1. Begin lesson on prejudice, equality and segregation by reading to students parts or all of books such as:

  • Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry by Mildred D. Taylor
  • A Picture of Freedom by Patricia McKissack
  • To Be a Slave by Julius Lester
  • Slavery Time When I Was a Chillun by Belinda Hurmence
  • Nightjohn by Gary Paulsen
  • Kindred by Octavia E. Butler

2. After introducing to students the issue of slavery, injustice, and prejudice, discuss and define terms with students such as: Rights, Liberty, Prejudice, Equality.

Web Quest Procedure

Instruct students to go to website that contains Declaration of Independence, and read with students the second paragraph.

After reading this part of the Declaration of Independence, have students give examples of what life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness means to them, have students explain terms in their own words and share responses with the class.

Explain to students that throughout history, not everybody has been treated equally and have students go to a website that shows the famous image of segregation including:



To learn how prejudice affected African-Americans’ daily lives and education, have students visit each of these web sites to research the Jim Crow Laws and answer the following questions:


  1. What year did the Jim Crow Laws begin?
  2. Who was affected by the Jim Crow Laws?
  3. Where did the Jim Crow Laws begin?
  4. Why were these laws called the “Jim Crow” laws?
  5. Give 3 examples of a “Jim Crow” law.
  6. How do you think African-Americans felt about these laws?
  7. How did these laws affect the education of African-Americans?
  8. How would you know if a place of business followed the Jim Crow Laws?
  9. What do you think were the reasons for the Jim Crow Laws?
  10. How do you think the Jim Crow Laws affected education?
  11. How did the Jim Crow Laws end?

Extension Activities and resources

  1. Introduce students to pieces of literature that will help them learn more about slavery, prejudice and inequality.
  2. Have students then visit other websites introducing them to the topics of slavery, inequality, and prejudice.