Aug 29

The Path of a Woman Pioneer 8-7.4

In this lesson students identify challenges faced by Blacks during the Civil Rights movement by reading through letters in the Modjeska Simkins collections.

Click here to download the full lesson with attached handouts. The Path of a Woman Pioneer

Historical Background

Visit http://www.cr.nps.gov/nr/travel/civilrights/sc3.htm to learn more about this civil rights leader.


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.


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.


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.


3-5.6 Summarize the key events and effects of the civil rights movement in South Carolina, including the desegregation of schools (Briggs v. Elliott) and other public facilities and the acceptance of African Americans’ right to vote.



  • Students will select and read one letter from the Modjeska Simkins collection.
  • Students will identify challenges suffered by Blacks in South Carolina during the Civil Rights movement


Time Required                                                                    Recommended Grade Level

1 class period                                                                          Elementary/Middle/High


Lesson Materials


Lesson Preparation

  • Arrange to take students to computer lab where they will access the Modjeska Simkins lessons from the Digital Collections homepage.
  • Create a brief presentation about Modjeska Simkins using information from National Parks Service website http://www.cr.nps.gov/nr/travel/civilrights/sc3.htm
  • Copy or use your Smart board to display the class compilation chart below.



Lesson Procedure

  • Begin by introducing students to who Modjeska Simkins was and why she is considered a South Carolina leader in the Civil Rights movement (note her work on the Briggs v. Elliot case).
  • Instruct students to choose one letter from the Simkins collection to explore.
  • Instruct students to search through their selected letter to find one challenge that African Americans faced in South Carolina during the Civil Rights Movement.  How was Simkins involved in addressing this challenge?
  • After students have identified their challenge, they should come up to the board to fill in the chart with information telling what they learned.
  • After all have filled in their portion of the chart, reconvene to discuss the findings with the class.  Use the assessment questions below in your informal assessment.



  • What challenges did Blacks suffer in South Carolina during the Civil Rights movement as evidenced in the Modjeska Simkins papers? What do the Modjeska Simkins papers tell us about history?  What kind of person was Modjeska Simkins? Was it necessary for her to be so direct and outspoken in her efforts to put an end to discrimination?  Explain.



Digital Collections Information

This lesson is based on images and/or documents derived from the Modjeska Simkins 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.