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ERIC Number: EJ904815
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2010-Oct
Pages: 6
Abstractor: ERIC
Reference Count: N/A
ISSN: ISSN-0037-7724
A Bus Ride across the Mason-Dixon Line during Jim Crow
Stokes, John A.
Social Education, v74 n5 p266-271 Oct 2010
In this classroom simulation, students travel back in time to 1945, when racism was institutionalized in many states through segregation. Though students cannot literally travel back to the Jim Crow era, teachers can create a situation that brings home the point of injustice and the choices individuals are faced with in such situations. Suddenly, a period of history that seems "ancient" to many students feels immediate and personal. In this exercise, participating students are given different colored cards (e.g., blue or yellow) that serve as their bus tickets, and then experience arbitrary treatment based on the cards they were dealt, so to speak. As the imaginary bus (rows of chairs in the classroom) travels from New York to Maryland, it crosses the Pennsylvania-Maryland border. This was part of the Mason-Dixon Line, a border symbolizing differences between the North and the South. At this pivotal moment in the simulation, the bus driver (the teacher) directs passengers to segregate themselves according to the color of their cards (as Jim Crow laws in Maryland and many states across the South required passengers to do based on skin color). Suddenly, in the simulation, only those with blue cards may sit in the front of the bus. The exercise, and subsequent discussion with the whole class, can bring history to life in a meaningful way for students and foster a greater awareness of social injustice. A sidebar describes the 1951 Student Strike at Robert Russo Morton High School in Farmville, Virginia, in which the author was a leader. (Contains 1 note.) ["A Bus Ride across the Mason-Dixon Line during Jim Crow" was written with Steven S. Lapham.]
National Council for the Social Studies. 8555 Sixteenth Street #500, Silver Spring, MD 20910. Tel: 800-683-0812; Tel: 301-588-1800; Fax: 301-588-2049; e-mail:; Web site:
Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Descriptive
Education Level: N/A
Audience: Teachers
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers - Location: Maryland; New York; Pennsylvania; Virginia
Identifiers - Laws, Policies, & Programs: Plessy v Ferguson