Lesson Plan

Power and Privilege

Black Lives Matter protest in response to pro police rally


Related Content

Civics Lesson

GRADE LEVEL: High School

What is privilege? How does privilege impact the criminal justice system?

On August 9, 2014, Michael Brown, an unarmed 18-year-old Black teenager, was shot and killed by a white police officer in Ferguson, Missouri. The officer was not indicted. The story captured the attention of the nation and the media, and in many ways became the beginning of the Black Lives Matter movement. Many stories like this occurred in the following years and continued to capture the attention of the media and the world, leading to a public outcry for reform of law enforcement, the Grand Jury process and the criminal justice system overall. Understanding how power and privilege play a role in our justice system is important to moving the discussion from white privilege discourse to the protection of rights for all people.

About the Lesson Plan

In this lesson, students reflect on the killing of Michael Brown through the lens of race, privilege and power. Students will examine the various levels of racial disparities in the criminal justice system and explore the role white privilege plays in the different interactions people have with the police and the criminal justice system.




  • Discuss and define privilege.
  • Discuss how privilege impacts the criminal justice system.