Aug 29

Domestic Terrorism 8-7.4

In this lesson students will examine the events surrounding the Civil Rights movement and the Briggs v. Elliot case by analyzing a speech written by the late Rev. Joseph A. DeLaine.

Click here to download the full lesson with attached handouts. Domestic Terrorism

Historical Background

“In 1948 in South Carolina, the modern civil rights movement started with a simple request. The parents of some African American students in Clarendon County, South Carolina requested a bus to take their children to their all-black school. Some children had to walk 18 miles to and from school each day. Since the county’s [2375] white children had [30] school buses for their use and its [6531] black students had none, parents at Scott’s Branch School felt that the “separate-but equal” doctrine established by the Supreme Court in Plessy v. Ferguson required that the school district at least pay for the gas and repairs on the used bus that the families had bought for their children. Parents did not originally seek integration but instead some equality. The case was dismissed due to a technicality. With the assistance of local leaders and the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, [25] parents brought suit against the school district in a new case, Briggs v. Elliot, for equal treatment under the law as required by the 14th amendment. In federal district court, the state’s counsel admitted that the separate schools for African Americans were unequal but claimed that the state had initiated a building program that would bring the African American schools up to par with the white schools. The court, therefore, ruled in favor of the school district. The NAACP then appealed the case to the United States Supreme Court, combining it with others like it from several states. . Briggs v. Elliot was the first of five cases that became part of the landmark Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka, Kansas decision that was decided in 1954. In Brown, the Supreme Court ruled that separate was inherently unequal. The court further ruled that African American students should be integrated into classrooms with white children with “all deliberate speed.”


South Carolina Social Studies Support Document, Grade 8, 2008 http://ed.sc.gov/agency/Standards-and-Learning/Academic-Standards/old/cso/social_studies/social.html


South Carolina Standards

8-7.4 Explain the factors that influenced the economic opportunities of African American

South Carolinians during the latter twentieth century, including racial discrimination, the

Briggs v. Elliott case, the integration of public facilities and the civil rights movement, agricultural decline, and statewide educational improvement. (H, P, E)


5-5.3 Explain the advancement of the civil rights movement in the United States, including key events and people: desegregation of the armed forces, Brown v. Board of Education, Martin Luther King Jr., Rosa Parks, and Malcolm X. (P, G, H)



USHC-9.5 Explain the movements for racial and gender equity and civil liberties, including their initial strategies, landmark court cases and legislation, the roles of key civil rights advocates, and the influence of the civil rights movement on other groups seeking ethnic and gender equity. (H, P)




  • Students will analyze a speech written by Rev. Joseph A. DeLaine, local Civil Rights Activist
  • Students will analyze events surrounding the Briggs v. Elliot case
  • Students will compare and contrasts ideas in the Civil Rights Movement with current events.


Time Required                                                                    Recommended Grade Level

1-2 class periods                                                                     Middle/High


Lesson Materials


Lesson Preparation

  1. Print a copy of the written threat left for Rev. Joseph A. DeLaine.  Fold it like a note.
  2. Print all other copies. Have these files ready to be viewed before class starts.
  3. Write starter question on the board: What was the Civil Rights movement?


Lesson Procedure

  1. As students walk into the room, pull a random student to the side.  Hand him the folded note. Ask the student to pass it to another student as if he is just handing a random note.
  2. Allow three to five minutes to complete the starter question on the board.
  3. Bring the class to attention.  Have students respond to the starter question aloud.
  4. Project the image of the note onto the board. Turn to the reader of the note.  Ask her/him to read the note aloud.  Ask the student how he/she felt when she/he read the note.
  5. Turn to the class.  Explain that this note was written to tell Rev. Joseph A. DeLaine to get out of town.
  6. At this point, if students have questions, use those questions to guide information concerning the Civil Rights Movement in South Carolina.  If there are no questions, continue to explain who Rev. Joseph A. DeLaine was and how he was instrumental in the Supreme Court case, Briggs v. Elliot (a precursor to Brown v. Board of Education).  Background information is provided as a part of the collection.
  7. After this point, explain to students that they will be analyzing a speech written by Rev. Joseph A. DeLaine.
  8. Distribute the speech.  Let students highlight key points and make notes on the printed copies.
  9. Reconvene to discuss the speech and what they tell us about the Civil Rights Movement.  Ask for questions about the documents.  Again, if students have probing questions, allow those questions to guide your discussion. If there are no significant questions, ask the following:
    1. In the speech The Whites Citizens Council and States’ Rights League, what point is DeLaine making?
    2. Which groups does DeLaine compare to Nazi’s and Facists? What points does he use to make these correlations?
    3. Should groups like the KKK, the Whites Citizens Council and the States’ Rights League be considered terrorists?  Explain.
    4. Why do you think DeLaine felt so strongly about these groups?
    5. How do these historical acts of terrorism compare to acts by terrorists groups like Al-Qaeda?
    6. How does this speech support or contradict your current understanding of the Civil Rights Movement?



Have students write an editorial supporting or refuting claims by Rev. Joseph A. DeLaine that groups like the KKK, States’ Rights League and the White Citizens Council were terrorists.


Lesson Extension Options

  • Take students to the computer lab to search through the Rev. Joseph A. DeLaine Collection.
  • Host a debate on the idea of domestic terrorism. Is it more or less detrimental than terrorism from abroad?


Digital Collections Information

This lesson plan is based on images and/or documents derived from the Rev. Joseph A. DeLaine Collection available from the University of South Carolina’s Digital Collections Library.


To see other collections that may be helpful to your search, visit the Digital Collections homepage or visit SCDL’s collections.