The Last Stand of Massive Resistance: Mississippi Public School Integration, 1970 Lesson Plan


When the U.S. Supreme Court handed down the decision in Brown vs. the Board of Education, compliance with this judicial ruling was met with much resistance in Mississippi.  Even though most Mississippi schools had integrated peacefully by the mid-1970s, the integration of Mississippi schools was a long hard-fought battle that took place between the national government and state officials. 


Mississippi Studies Framework: Competencies: 1, 3, and 4


Grades 9 through 12



Students will identity the following terms:

  • Brown vs. Broad of Education
  • Desegregation
  • Integration
  • “Separate-but-equal”
  • Freedom-of-choice
  • Green vs. County School Board
  • Alexander vs. Holmes

 Students will determine Mississippi’s reaction to school desegregation.

Students will explore the feelings about school desegregation.


The teacher will have students look at the six photographs that accompany the Mississippi History Now article, “The Last Stand of Massive Resistance: Mississippi Public School Integration, 1970.”  The teacher will ask the students to compare and contrast the pictures. The teacher should guide the students to conclude that at one time in their state, schools were separated based on race.  The teacher will inform the students that over the next several days, they will study the integration of Mississippi schools. 


  1. Each student should be instructed to copy into their notebooks the terms listed above under Objectives.  Along with a partner, students will use the Mississippi History Now article to identify these terms.
  2. The teacher will facilitate a class discussion about school desegregation by asking student volunteers to share their identifications with the class.  
  3. After the class discussions, the teacher will ask students to write a paragraph about their feelings concerning the desegregation of Mississippi schools.
  4. The teacher will show the episode, “Fighting Back,” from Eyes on the Prize.  After the students have viewed this episode that deals with the desegregation of schools, ask students again to write a paragraph about the feelings concerning the desegregation of schools.


In closing the lesson, the teacher will guide the class discussion as students respond to the following questions:

  1. Did your perspective of the desegregation of schools change after viewing “Fighting Back?”
  2. As a school leader, what type of strategies would you have used to make the integration of your school successful?


  • Invite members of the community who experienced the desegregation of schools in the local community to speak with the class.
  • Allow students to collect oral histories from members of the community who experienced desegregation in the local community.
  • Allow students to research the desegregation of their local community.
  • Allow students to research how the following governors of Mississippi responded to desegregation: Hugh White; J.P. Coleman; Ross Barnett; Paul B. Johnson, Jr.; John Bell Williams. 
  • Create a timeline of major events during the Civil Rights Era as they parallel the integration of schools in the state.
  • Allow students to plan a history program that focuses on Mississippi’s civil rights history and the desegregation of the state’s public schools. 
  • Follow up this lesson with other Mississippi History Now lesson plans on Civil Rights Era events and leaders in the state.