Jim Crow Laws

Jim Crow Laws

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In the ten years succeeded the Civil War thousands of Negroes were murdered for the crime of casting a ballot. As a consequence their vote is entirely nullified throughout the entire South. The laws of the Southern states make it a crime for whites and Negroes to inter-marry or even ride in the same railway carriage. Both crimes are punishable by fine and imprisonment. The doors of churches, hotels, concert halls and reading rooms are alike closed against the Negro as a man, but every place is open to him as a servant.

Them Ku Kluxers was terrible - what they done to people. Oh, God, they was bad. They come sneaking up and run you out of your house and take everything you had. They was rough on the women and children. People all wanted to stay close by where soldiers was. I sure knowed they was my friend.

Now you wants to know about this voting business. I voted for General Grant. Army men come around and registered you before voting time. It wasn't no trouble to vote them days; white and black all voted together. All you had to do was tell who you was vote for and they give you a colored ticket. All the men up had different colored tickets. If you voted for Grant, you get his color. It was easy. They was colored men in office, plenty. Colored legislators, and colored circuit clerks, and colored county clerks. They sure was some big officers colored in them times. They was all my friends. This here used to be a good county, but I tell you it sure is tough now. I think it's wrong - exactly wrong that we can't vote now. The Jim Crow law, it put us out. The Constitution of the United States, it give us the right to vote. It made us citizens, it did.

One of the points in which I was especially interested was the Jim Crow regulations, that is, the system of separation of the races in street cars and railroad trains.

I was curious to see how the system worked out in Atlanta. Over the door of each car, I found the sign: "White people will seat from front of car toward the back and colored people from toward front". Sure enough, I found the white people in front and the Negroes behind.

As the sign indicates, there is no definite line of division between the white seats and the black seats, as in many other Southern cities. This very absence of a clear demarcation is significant of many relationships in the South. The colour line is drawn, but neither race knows just where it is. Indeed, it can hardly be definitely drawn in many relationships, because it is constantly changing. This uncertainty is a fertile source of friction and bitterness.

The very first time I was on a car in Atlanta, I saw the conductor - all conductors are white - ask a Negro woman to get up and take a seat farther back in order to make a place for a white man. I have also seen white men requested to leave the Negro section of the car.

"We pay first-class fare," said one of the leading Negroes in Atlanta, "exactly as the white man does, but we don't get first-class service. I say it isn't fair."

Charles T. Hopkins, a leader in the Civic League and one of the prominent lawyers of the city, told me that he believed the Negroes should be given their definite seats in every car; he said that he personally made it a practice to stand up rather than to take any one of the four back seats, which he considered as belonging to the Negroes.

What is democracy? Personal freedom, all citizens enjoying the same rights socially and before the law. Do you enjoy the same rights as the white people in America, the land of Freedom and Democracy, or are you rather not treated over there as a second-class citizen? Can you go into a restaurant where white people dine? Can you get a seat in the theatre where white people sit? Is lynching a lawful proceeding in a democratic country?

We see white men and women get on the train, dressed in expensive new clothes. We look at them guardedly and wonder will they bother us. Will they ask us to stand up while they sit down? Will they tell us to go to the back of the coach? Even though we have been told that we need not to be afraid, we have lived so long in fear of all white faces that we cannot help but sit and wait. We look around the train and we do not see the old familiar signs: "For Colored" and "For White".

Then we board our first Yankee streetcar to go to a cousin's home. We pay the conductor our fare and look about where we please, but we were still scared. We cannot shake off 300 years of fear in three hours. We ease into a seat and look out of the window at the crowded streets. A white man or woman comes and sits besides us, not even looking at us, as though this was a normal thing to do. The muscles of our bodies tighten. Indefinable sensations crawl over our skins and our blood tingles. Out of the corners of our eyes we try to get a glimpse of the strange white face that floats but a few inches from ours.

The treatment of Negroes in the south has humiliated and shamed me so deeply that my blood runs cold in my veins. Traveling by bus, with the rain pouring, the driver ordered a dozen Negroes to step back and let two handsome white women aboard first. They came on, then the driver saw they had Negro blood in their veins - perhaps their hair showed it. The driver slapped his leg and bawled with laughter and said to the white passengers: "Now ain't that a joke! I thought they was white and they are Niggers." The faces of t he two women and of all the colored passengers were frozen. Mine froze too. Some of the white passengers broke into a laugh at the joke.

I saw a northern white soldier ask a colored soldier to sit down by him and the latter did so; then the bus driver stopped the bus and said: "Stand up. Nigger!" The colored soldier stood up. The white soldier said: "Aw hell!" and stood up also. But had that white soldier not been in uniform, I don't know what would have happened.

Now when I heard this, I should have stood up and killed the driver. But I sat there petrified, sat there like a traitor to the human race. I kept thinking of what Jesus would have done, and knew that he would perhaps have allowed Himself to be killed. I didn't. I didn't do a thing for many reasons: because I was warned a dozen times by white people that if I did anything it would be the colored people who suffered for it. The whole south whispers if the least thing breaks out. In one town in Georgia a fight started in the colored section of the town. So great is the tension that the minute it started, the railway engine on the train began to toot, the air-raid sirens went off as if there was an air raid, police cars and motorcycles roared through the street, and I heard the firing of guns. A street fight starts such a night alarm.

Frequently Negroes paid their fare at the front door, and then were forced to get off and reboard at the rear. An even more humiliating practice was the custom of forcing Negroes to stand over empty seats reserved for "whites only". Even if the bus had no white passengers, and Negroes were packed throughout, they were prohibited from sitting in the front four seats (which held ten persons). But the practice went further. If white persons were already occupying all of their reserved seats and additional white people boarded the bus. Negroes sitting in the unreserved section immediately behind the whites were asked to stand so that the whites could be seated. If the Negroes refused to stand and move back, they were arrested.

I had left my work at the men's alteration shop, a tailor shop in the Montgomery Fair department store, and as I left work, I crossed the street to a drugstore to pick up a few items instead of trying to go directly to the bus stop. And when I had finished this, I came across the street and looked for a Cleveland Avenue bus that apparently had some seats on it. At that time it was a little hard to get a seat on the bus. But when I did get to the entrance of the bus, I got in line with a number of other people who were getting on the same bus.

As I got up on the bus and walked to the seat I saw there was only one vacancy that was just back of where it was considered the white section. So this was the seat that I took, next to the aisle, and a man was sitting next to me. Across the aisle there were two women, and there were a few seats at this point in the very front of the bus that was called the white section. I went on to one stop and I didn't particularly notice who was getting on the bus, didn't particularly notice the other people getting on. And on the third stop there were some people getting on, and at this point all of the front seats were taken. Now in the beginning, at the very first stop I had got on the bus, the back of the bus was filled up with people standing in the aisle and I don't know why this one vacancy that I took was left, because there were quite a few people already standing toward the back of the bus. The third stop is when all the front seats were taken, and this one man was standing and when the driver looked around and saw he was standing, he asked the four of us, the man in the seat with me and the two women across the aisle, to let him have those front seats.

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At his first request, didn't any of us move. Then he spoke again and said, "You'd better make it light on yourselves and let me have those seats." At this point, of course, the passenger who would have taken the seat hadn't said anything. In fact, he never did speak to my knowledge. When the three people, the man who was in the seat with me and the two women, stood up and moved into the aisle, I remained where I was. When the driver saw that I was still sitting there, he asked if I was going to stand up. I told him, no, I wasn't. He said, "Well, if you don't stand up, I'm going to have you arrested." I told him to go on and have me arrested.

He got off the bus and came back shortly. A few minutes later, two policemen got on the bus, and they approached me and asked if the driver had asked me to stand up, and I said yes, and they wanted to know why I didn't. I told them I didn't think I should have to stand up. They placed me under arrest then and had me to get in the police car, and I was taken to jail.

The southern institution of racial segregation or racial separation was the correct, self-evident truth which arose from the chaos and confusion of the reconstruction period. Separation promotes racial harmony. It permits each race to follow its own pursuits, and its own civilization. Segregation is not discrimination. Segregation is not a badge of racial inferiority, and that it is not is recognized by both races in the Southern States. In fact, segregation is desired and supported by the vast majority of the members of both races in the South, who dwell side by side under harmonious conditions.

The negro has made a great contribution to the South. We take pride in the constant advance he has made. It is where social questions are involved that Southern people draw the line. It is these social institutions with which Southern people, in my judgment, will not permit the Supreme Court to tamper.

Let me make this clear, Mr. President: There is no racial hatred in the South. The Negro race is not an oppressed race. A great Senator from the State of Idaho, Senator William E. Borah, a few years ago said on the floor of the Senate: "Let us admit that the South is dealing with this question as best it can, admit that the men and women of the South are just as patriotic as we are, just as devoted to the principles of the Constitution as we are, just as willing to sacrifice for the success of their communities as we are. Let us give them credit as American citizens, and cooperate with them, sympathize with them, and help them in the solution of their problem, instead of condemning them. We are one people, one nation, and they are entitled to be treated upon this basis."

Mr. President, it is the law of nature, it is the law of God, that every race has both the right and the duty to perpetuate itself. All free men have the right to associate exclusively with members of their own race, free from governmental interference, if they so desire. Free men have the right to send their children to schools of their own choosing, free from governmental interference and to build up their own culture, free from governmental interference. These rights are inherent in the Constitution of the United States and in the American system of government, both state and national, to promote and protect this right.

"Black Monday" is the name coined by Representative John Bell Williams of Mississippi to designate Monday, May 17th, 1954, a date long to be remembered throughout this nation. This is the date upon which the Supreme Court of the United States handed down its socialistic decision in the Segregation cases on appeal from the States of Kansas, South Carolina, Virginia and Delaware.

"Black Monday" is indeed symbolic of the date. Black denoting darkness and terror. Black signifying the absence of light and wisdom. Black embodying grief, destruction and death. Should Representative Williams accomplish nothing more during his membership in Congress he has more than justified his years in office by the creating of this epithet, the originating of this watchword, the shouting of this battle cry.

Black Monday ranks in importance with July 4th, 1776, the date upon which our Declaration of Independence was signed. May 17th, 1954, is the date upon which the declaration of socialistic doctrine was officially proclaimed throughout this nation. It was on Black Monday that the judicial branch of our government usurped the sacred privilege and right of the respective states of this union to educate their youth. This usurpation constitutes the greatest travesty of the American Constitution and jurisprudence in the history of this nation.

The crowd was quiet. I guess they were waiting to see what was going to happen. When I was able to steady my knees, I walked up to the guard who had let the white students in. When I tried to squeeze past him, he raised his bayonet and then the other guards closed in and they raised their bayonets. They glared at me with a mean look and I was very frightened and didn't know what to do. I turned around and the crowd came toward me. Someone started yelling "lynch her!"

I tried to find a friendly face somewhere in the mob. I looked at her again she spat on me. They came closer, shouting, "No ****** bitch is going to get in our school! Get out of here!" Then I saw a bench at the bus stop. When I got there, I don't think I could have gone another step. I sat down and the mob crowded up and began shouting all over again. Just then a white man sat down beside me, put his arm around me and patted my shoulder. He raised my chin and said, "Don't let them see you cry."

Upon arrival in Birmingham I could see a mob lined up on the sidewalk only a few feet from the loading platform. Most of them were young - in their twenties. Some were carrying ill-concealed iron bars. All had hate showing on their faces.

I looked at them and then I looked at Charles Person, who had been designated as my team mate to test the lunch counter. When I looked at him, he responded by saying simply, "Let's go." As we entered the white waiting room and approached the lunch counter, we were grabbed bodily and pushed toward the alleyway and out of sight of onlookers in the waiting room, six of them started swinging at me with fists and pipes. Five others attacked Person a few feet ahead. Within seconds, I was unconscious on the ground.

In May 1956 Alabama politicians "stood on the beach of history and tried to hold back the tide." They outlawed the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, in a desperate attempt to halt the movement for Negro equality. But their action had precisely the opposite effect. For almost immediately the Negroes of Birmingham came together to form a movement which during the last ten years has transformed life in Birmingham - which has shaken America.

"They could outlaw an organization, but they couldn't outlaw the movement of a people determined to be free," said the Rev. Fred L. Shuttlesworth, president of the new group. And at a mass meeting called by a committee of Negro ministers, the Alabama Christian Movement for Human Rights (ACMHR) was born. Many Negroes in "the Johannesburg of North America" were afraid to join. But many others echoed the sentiments of Mrs. Rosa Walker, one of the first members: "I was frightened, but I figured we needed help to get us more jobs and better education. And we had the man here to help us."

But Christmas night, the night before the protest, the home of Rev. Shuttlesworth was bombed. The bed in which he was sleeping was directly over the spot where the bomb went off. The bed was blown to bits, but he escaped unhurt. Members of the ACMHR say he was saved to lead the movement.

Shuttlesworth took a neighbor who was hurt in the explosion to the hospital. Then he took a bus home - and he rode in front. The bombing strengthened the determination of his followers in the same way.

"On the 25th day of December, that's when they blew up Rev. Shuttlesworth's house," says Mrs. Walker. "And when I went to the meeting the next morning Rev. Shuttlesworth was the first thing I saw. And I knowed as how their house was blowed up, and I couldn't figure out how he was there. And I said then, that I'm going into it. And I went into it on that day."

More than 250 others "went into it" with Mrs. Twenty-one of them were arrested that day, one the following day. They were convicted and fined, and they then filed suit in federal court, in January, 1957.

The question of desegregating the buses wasn't over until late 1959. At that time, federal court rulings held the police were wrong in arresting Negroes who rode the buses integrated in 1958 and the Milwaukee couple who sat in the railroad station in 1959. But the segregation signs were still up, and by now ACMHR people knew that court rulings only come to life when people put their bodies on the line in a challenge to the old ways.

This nation was founded by men of many nations and backgrounds. It was founded on the principle that all men are created equal; and that the rights of every man are diminished when the rights of one man are threatened.

It ought to be possible, therefore, for American students of any color to attend any public institution they select without having to be backed up by troops. It ought to be possible for American consumers of any color to receive equal service in places of public accommodation, such as hotels and restaurants, and theaters and retail stores, without being forced to resort to demonstrations in the street.

And it ought to be possible for American citizens of any color to register and to vote in a free election without interference or fear of reprisal.

It ought to be possible, in short, for every American to enjoy the privileges of being American without regard to his race or his color.

This is not a sectional issue. Difficulties over segregation and discrimination exist in every city, in every state of the Union, producing in many cities a rising tide of discontent that threatens the public safety.

Nor is this a partisan issue. In a time of domestic crisis, men of goodwill and generosity should be able to unite regardless of party or politics.

This is not even a legal or legislative issue alone. It is better to settle these matters in the courts than on the streets, and new laws are needed at every level. But law alone cannot make men see right.

We are confronted primarily with a moral issue. It is as old as the Scriptures and is as clear as the American Constitution. The heart of the question is whether all Americans are to be afforded equal rights and equal opportunities; whether we are going to treat our fellow Americans as we want to be treated.

If an American, because his skin is dark, cannot eat lunch in a restaurant open to the public; if he cannot send his children to the best public schools available; if he cannot vote for the public officials who represent him; if, in short, he cannot enjoy the full and free life which all of us want, then who among us would be content to have the color of his skin changed and stand in his place?

Who among us would then be content with the counsels of patience and delay? One hundred years of delay have passed since President Lincoln freed the slaves, yet their heirs, their grandsons, are not fully free. They are not yet freed from the bonds of injustice; they are not yet freed from social and economic oppression.

And this nation, for all its hopes and all its boasts, will not be fully free until all its citizens are free.

Now the time has come for this nation to fulfill its promise.

The events in Birmingham and elsewhere have so increased the cries for equality that no city or state or legislative body can prudently choose to ignore them.

The fires of frustration and discord are burning in every city, North and South. Where legal remedies are not at hand, redress is sought in the streets in demonstrations, parades and protests, which create tensions and threaten violence - and threaten lives.

We face, therefore, a moral crisis as a country and a people. It cannot be met by repressive police action. It cannot be left to increased demonstrations in the streets. It cannot be quieted by token moves or talk. It is a time to act in the Congress, in your state and local legislative body, and, above all, in all of our daily lives.

I am, therefore, asking the Congress to enact legislation giving all Americans the right to be served in facilities which are open to the public - hotels, restaurants and theaters, retail stores and similar establishments. This seems to me to be an elementary right.

I'm also asking Congress to authorize the Federal Government to participate more fully in lawsuits designed to end segregation in public education. We have succeeded in persuading many districts to desegregate voluntarily. Dozens have admitted Negroes without violence.

Other features will also be requested, including greater protection for the right to vote.

But legislation, I repeat, cannot solve this problem alone. It must be solved in the homes of every American in every community across our country.

In this respect, I want to pay tribute to those citizens, North and South, who've been working in their communities to make life better for all.

They are acting not out of a sense of legal duty but out of a sense of human decency. Like our soldiers and sailors in all parts of the world, they are meeting freedom's challenge on the firing line, and I salute them for their honor - their courage.

Jim Crow Laws - History

Jim Crow in Alaska
Articles, photographs and more documenting
some of the history of racism in Alaska

New links: Who was Jim Crow and What were Jim Crow laws?
PBS has a new Jim Crow website to accompany a tv series

Listen to a personal narrative

"Aleut Internment" is the recollections of an Aleut man on the forced relocation of his people by the U.S. Government during World War II. This story is available in RealAudio format and read by its author.

Racist sign triggers soul-searching at Juneau high school
FORUM:Hundreds meet to find solutions after student flashes derogatory sign.
(Published: February 7, 2004)

Abstract: Tobeluk vs. Lind is commonly known as the Molly Hootch class action suit. The eventual settlement allowed for rural Alaska Native communities to also have local high schools rather than being forced to send children to boarding schools.

Abstract: A historic sight of a business which boasts having white employees only. Also included are articles and copies of government documents which outline the rights of Natives in Alaska during the last two centuries.

Separate But “Equal”: A Brief History of Jim Crow Laws

When the Delany sisters, born in 1889 and 1891, were small children, they could sit anywhere they pleased on streetcars in their hometown of Raleigh, North Carolina. Once they reached late elementary school, the sisters faced new limitations in their everyday life, however, when the town began to apply Jim Crow laws, which enforced racial segregation. The sisters would be close to 80 years old before government-mandated segregation ended in the U.S.

In the chaotic years after the Civil War, the U.S. government made a few promising strides in establishing and protecting civil rights for black Americans. The Civil Rights Act of 1866 mandated that all people born in the United States were entitled to citizenship, and had rights to enforce contracts, sue and be sued, give evidence in court and purchase, hold and sell property. The Civil Rights Act of 1875 gave black Americans equal treatment in public accommodations and public transportation and prohibited their exclusion from jury service. It wasn’t long, however, before this progress was reversed. In 1883, the Supreme Court ruled the Civil Rights Act of 1875 unconstitutional. Individual southern states began to enforce segregation laws, conforming to the idea that blacks and whites should be separate but equal. Schools, train cars, buses, businesses, restrooms and drinking fountains were soon subject to this doctrine. In 1896, the Supreme Court sanctioned the idea of separate but equal by ruling that the state of Louisiana had the right to arrest Homer Plessy, who was one-eighth black, after he sat in a whites only railway car and refused to move when asked.

The laws that imposed segregation became collectively known as Jim Crow laws, after a fictitious black character of the same name performed by white entertainer Thomas D. Rice, beginning in 1828. After darkening his skin with burnt cork and donning rags, Rice portrayed a lazy, simple-minded man in doing so he initiated and perpetuated stereotypes about blacks and earned the title in history books of “The Father of Minstrelsy.” The term “Jim Crow” evolved into a slur to describe black people —so “Jim Crow laws” means “black laws,” but with a strongly negative and racist connotation.

Although the laws stressed that facilities for blacks were supposed to be “equal” to those of whites, in reality the black restrooms, train cars and schools were often underfunded or dirty, and the back of the bus was, if nothing else, less convenient for a weary commuter. Despite protests, these laws persisted through the middle of the century, finally being gradually repealed through a myriad of events, including the Supreme Court’s call to reintegrate schools with the landmark case Brown vs. the Board of Education of Topeka, Kansas, Rosa Parks’ famous decision to remain seated in the front of the bus, and countless activist marches, chants and sit-ins.

Jim Crow Laws - History

&bull The filibuster&rsquos emergence had nothing to do with racial legislation, and it has been used against a wide variety of bills. However, historians agree that the filibuster was closely intertwined with anti-civil-rights efforts in the Senate for more than a century, thanks to repeated efforts by southern senators to filibuster civil rights bills.

Former President Barack Obama made some news when he delivered a eulogy for John Lewis, the civil rights activist and congressman from Georgia who died on July 17 after battling cancer. In his eulogy, Obama said he was open to ending the filibuster, the longstanding rule in the U.S. Senate that allows a minority of 41 senators to block action on a bill.

Obama&rsquos declaration during the July 30 church service in Atlanta came as he argued that Lewis&rsquo top issue &ndash the right to vote &ndash was under attack.

"You want to honor John? Let&rsquos honor him by revitalizing the law that he was willing to die for," the Voting Rights Act. Obama said he supported such policies as automatic voter registration, additional polling places and early voting, making Election Day a national holiday, statehood for Washington, D.C., and Puerto Rico, and an end to partisan gerrymandering.

"And if all this takes eliminating the filibuster &ndash another Jim Crow relic &ndash in order to secure the God-given rights of every American, then that&rsquos what we should do" Obama said.

A former Obama speechwriter, David Litt, had used almost identical language more than a month earlier when writing in the Atlantic, calling the filibuster "another relic of the Jim Crow era."

We wanted to know more about the history of the filibuster and its role in the Jim Crow era.

Historians told PolitiFact that the filibuster did not emerge from debates over slavery or segregation. However, they agreed that the parliamentary tactic was closely affiliated with opposition to civil rights for more than a century.

"The histories of the filibuster, civil and voting rights, and race in America are intertwined," said Steven S. Smith, a political scientist and Senate specialist at Washington University in St. Louis.

The filibuster was never "established" by a specific act it emerged essentially by accident.

In her book, "Minority Rights, Majority Rule: Partisanship and the Development of Congress," Sarah Binder pegs the origins of the filibuster to a revision of Senate rules in the first decade of the 19th century, when senators mistakenly deleted a rule empowering a majority to cut off debate.

"Bereft of a rule to limit debate by majority vote in the 19th century, senators learned to exploit the rules to obstruct, delay, and take measures hostage for action on favored bills," said Binder, a political scientist at George Washington University and a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution.

It took until 1917 for the Senate to enact a "cloture" rule that disempowered a single senator, or small group of senators, from stopping debate on their own. The 1917 rule empowered a two-thirds majority of senators to cut off debate and proceed to the business being blocked. That fraction was lowered to three-fifths in 1975, where it remains today. (More recently, both parties have moved to eliminate the filibuster for appointments, but it remains in place for legislation.)

Sen. Strom Thurmond, D-S.C., demonstrates his oratory minutes after he emerged from the Senate chamber where he spoke a record-breaking 24-hours, 18 minutes, against the compromise Civil Rights bill, on Aug. 29, 1957. (AP)

"Exploitation of the filibuster repeatedly undermined adoption of measures supported by majorities to protect and advance the rights of African Americans for much of Senate history," Binder said.

The first period when this happened was in the pre-Civil War era, when filibusters were used against the admission of states depending on their slavery status, including California in 1850 and Kansas beginning in 1857, said Gregory Koger, a political scientist and congressional specialist at the University of Miami.

Then, during the Reconstruction and post-Reconstruction eras, senators launched filibusters against civil rights bills, deployment of federal troops in southern states, and repayment of income taxes from the Civil War, Koger said.

"The last gasp of Republican efforts to ensure the political rights of southern blacks was the 1890-91 elections bill, which died in a Senate filibuster," Koger said. "The Republicans were chastened after this last effort. They were surprised by the vehemence of Southern opposition to the bill, and found that northern interest in civil rights was low."

Civil rights largely faded from the congressional agenda between the 1890s and the 1930s, but even then, the filibuster was used to block anti-lynching bills in 1922 and 1935. (Efforts to belatedly enact an anti-lynching law have been under way during the current Congress, but no law has been sent to the president yet.)

"It wasn&rsquot until the 1950s that weak civil rights legislation was passed, and it wasn&rsquot until 1964 and 1965 that legislation with real teeth was enacted," Smith said.

Generally speaking, pro-civil rights senators did not resort to filibustering, Koger said. One exception came in 1937, when pro-civil rights senators threatened to filibuster the resolution to adjourn for the year until Senate Majority Leader Alben Barkley promised to bring an anti-lynching bill up for a vote. Barkley relented, but the bill that came to the floor died due a filibuster.

Pro-civil-rights senators could have used filibusters to hold hostage bills valued by southerners, Koger said. But they didn't, he said, in part because northern senators had a much smaller proportion of African American constituents at the time, making the issue seem less immediately salient.

By contrast, "once southern states had imposed a vast array of voting and election advantages for white citizens, there were few politicians in the South whose careers depended on representing southern Blacks, including restoring their political equality," Koger said. With whites strongly in favor of the Jim Crow status quo, southern senators went all in on blocking civil rights legislation, including the use of the filibuster, he said.

Even the Civil Rights Act of 1965, the landmark bill that finally broke the logjam, was almost blocked by the filibuster. The bill&rsquos proponents were able to win passage only after securing 71 votes, including 27 Republicans, to end a filibuster.

Civil rights legislation has not been the only type of Senate action to become subject to a filibuster.

The very first Senate filibuster was over a bridge across the Potomac River, Koger said, and trade, tariffs, and monetary policy inspired some 19th and early 20th century filibusters.

"During the 1920s and 1930s, many filibusters were waged by progressives against perceived government handouts to big business, and for neutrality in foreign affairs," Koger said. "The 1939 movie 'Mr. Smith Goes to Washington,' in which a simple prairie patriot filibusters against a corrupt political machine, embodies this progressive image of filibustering."

For most of congressional history, Koger said, "legislators have had to invest effort and pay political costs to filibuster, so the set of issues being obstructed at any time is a record of what politicians and voters really cared about. This included race, slavery, and civil rights, but also trade, foreign affairs, monetary policy, and internal parliamentary rights."

On balance, Smith said, conservatives tend to like the filibuster more than liberals do, since the filibuster makes it harder to create new federal programs, which is a fundamental goal of small-government conservatism. Liberals, by contrast, are more likely to feel constrained by the filibuster in their efforts to expand the government&rsquos role.

Even so, "situational ethics" also play a role, Smith said.

One argument in support of continuing the filibuster is that any majority is eventually going to be back in the minority and will rue the day it made life harder for its future self. Another argument against eliminating the filibuster is that it gives any single senator greater power within the chamber. Getting rid of the filibuster would require a tradeoff of each senator&rsquos individual leverage.

That said, historians say that the filibuster&rsquos decades of use in opposition to civil rights has bequeathed it a historical stain.

"The repeated filibusters against civil rights legislation provide clear examples of how filibustering can be used to defend horrendous status quo policies," Koger said.

Racial Segregation and the History of Jim Crow Laws

1) White elites committed to racial hierarchy worry about a threat to the social order.

  • The Civil War, Emancipation Proclamation, and 13th Amendment formally end slavery, but this was just the starting point in the history of Jim Crow laws. Civil Rights Act of 1866 gives African Americans full citizenship.
  • Freed black people provoke fears of danger, and amalgamation with beings considered inferior and vile.
  • Poor whites are frightened of losing their social status accorded by skin color.
  • The Populist Party accuses the privileged classes at conspiring to keep poor whites and blacks locked into subjugation. “You are made to hate each other” for “financial despotism that enslaves you both.” Racial integration and class-based unity is a centerpiece. The Populists achieve political success.

2) They devise a new method of enforcing racialized social control in the next part of the history of Jim Crow laws.

  • Mainly this: Segregation laws are proposed to split poor whites and African Americans. Segregation leads poor whites to retain a sense of superiority over blacks, making alliances unlikely.
  • A system of veiled slavery is enacted. 1) States enact convict laws allowing for hiring out-of-county prisoners for little pay. 2) Very tough vagrancy laws (like requiring jobs for all freed black people) create lots of convicts. Treatment is possibly worse than slavery, given that employers are merely temporary, unlike plantation owners. This fades out gradually in the early 20th century.
  • States impose poll taxes, literacy tests, and other barriers to prevent black voting.
  • The Ku Klux Klan enacts terrorist campaigns against Reconstruction governments and leaders.

3) They collapse resistance across the political spectrum, largely by appealing to the vulnerability of lower-class whites.

  • Conservatives implement campaigns of white supremacy, directing poor white hatred at blacks instead of white elites. This shields elites from a mass uprising from the poor.
  • The agricultural depression promotes “permission to hate” and scapegoats blacks.

4) The system becomes institutionalized and pervasive, as stakeholders pursue their own incentives and rationalize their behavior. This entrenchment is part of the history of Jim Crow laws.

  • Politicians compete with each other by proposing more stringent and oppressive legislation (like prohibiting blacks and whites from playing chess).

The New Jim Crow

The history of Jim Crow laws also includes the rise and fall of Jim Crow. And, now, there is the New Jim Crow. Here is how the New Jim Crow works:

  • Use the War on Drugs to arrest large numbers of black men. Promote this through 1) strong financial incentives to stakeholders and 2) legal protection of discretion in law enforcement and prosecution.
    • Generally, as long as racial discrimination is not explicitly stated, actions biased by race are allowable.
    • Legal protections: race is allowed to be a factor in stopping vehicles as long as it’s not the sole factor probable cause is sufficient to justify stop and searches, regardless of intent of the officer lawyers can strike jurors on arbitrary peremptory challenges as long as it’s not explicitly racist.
    • In essence, black men are made criminals at higher rates than white men, despite not having significantly higher rates of drug crime.
    • As one example, before 2010, 5g of crack cocaine (associated with black people) and 500g of powder cocaine (associated with white people) earned the same 5-year minimum sentence – a literal 1:100 ratio. Analysis of risk of arrest.
    • This prevents reintegration, encourages recidivism, and may actively promote crime.

    As a result, black people are pushed into the system and kept within it. They are arrested more frequently, handed heavy sentences, then discriminated against when they leave prison.

    In turn, their children are heavily disadvantaged as a result and similarly forced into the system and so the cycle perpetuates.

    Insidiously, because the current system does not have explicit racial bias, it’s assumed to be colorblind. Exceptional black achievers like President Obama and Oprah imply that a racial caste no longer exists. This causes a consensus that criminals choose a life of crime and are not being systematically discriminated against. Furthermore, there has been historical black support for the war on drugs.

    Alexander argues that ending the New Jim Crow requires broad public consensus that the war on drugs has produced a racial caste and must be dismantled entirely. She doesn’t offer how technically do achieve it, but she does argue that solitary battles like affirmative action will not win the war.

    ———End of Preview———

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    Chafe, William H., Raymond Gavins, Robert Korstad, et al. 2001. Remembering Jim Crow: African Americans Tell about Life in the Segregated South. New York: New Press.

    Du Bois, W. E. B. 1903. The Souls of Black Folk. 2nd ed. Chicago: A. C. McClurg.

    Gilmore, Glenda. 1996. Gender and Jim Crow: Women and the Politics of White Supremacy in North Carolina, 1896 – 1920. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press.

    Klarman, Michael J. 2004. From Jim Crow to Civil Rights: The Supreme Court and the Struggle for Racial Equality. New York: Oxford University Press.

    Litwack, Leon. 1998. Trouble in Mind: Black Southerners in the Age of Jim Crow. New York: Knopf.

    Williamson, Joel. 1984. The Crucible of Race: Black-White Relations in the American South since Emancipation. New York: Oxford University Press.

    Woodward, C. Vann. [1955] 2002. The Strange Career of Jim Crow. New York: Oxford University Press.

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    Jim Crow Laws - History

    The Emancipation Proclamation of 1863 officially freed African Americans within rebel states. After the end of the Civil war, the Thirteenth Amendment emancipated all slaves. Politicians now faced the daunting task of bringing together a divided country. Under President Andrew Johnson, The Reconstruction Acts of 1867 was established and lasted until 1877. The aim was to reorganize southern states, and to establish a means for which black and white citizens can live together in a non-slavery society. It appeared that the Constitution had finally fulfilled its promise to provide African Americans full citizenship and equal protection under the law. For the first time, African Americans experienced a period where they could vote, participate in political processes, acquire land and seek their own employment. This seemingly peaceful time, lasting around 20 years was beginning to unfold due to those who still opposed equally citizenship and equal rights for all. African Americans would lose all progress they had gained and were denied of their rights once again. This was all made possible due to the installment of racist and bias statutes, also identified as The Jim Crow laws.

    The term Jim crow was a slang term used to describe people of color and was than adapted to be the name of any law passed in the South that created different rules for blacks and whites. The Jim Crow laws were a reaction to the Reconstruction Acts and where based on the premise of white superiority. Local communities in a majority of the states passed “Jim Crow” laws in which a separate but equal status was established for African Americans. These laws were established and maintained between 1874 and 1975, and inevitably condemned African Americans to unjust treatment and inferior facilities. These laws were seen mainly in the southern and boarder states. Jim Crow was more of a lifestyle backed up by a system that legitimized a hateful, racist and anti-black way of life. Under these laws, the supposedly equal African American citizens were treated as second class and exposed to physical and mental violence from whites daily. Jim crow laws were put in place in order to maintain racial segregation. This segregation started with all forms of public transportation and in schools, but quickly grew into the segregation of parks, diners, shops and theaters. Laws forbade African Americans from living in white neighborhoods. During this time, there would be racist and bias articles written discussing the implied superiority of the white race, and virtually every establishment supported and reinforced these oppressive laws. Pro-segregation politicians would often give eloquent speeches about how there was extreme danger associated with integration.

    The promise of equality based on the 13 th , 14 th and 15th Amendment written in the Constitution was quickly replaced with racism and inequality. The North also experienced many Jim Crow-like laws. Many northern states required African Americans to own property in order to vote, schools and neighborhoods were segregated, businesses often displayed “whites only” signs. Even during these times of Jim Crow law, there were brave individuals willing to stand up for what is right. One such person was Homer Adolph Plessy.

    Homer Adolph Plessy, born on March 17, 1862, was born to a family of mixed race with his great grandmother being African. Plessy would take up activism in the year 1887, and served as vice president to a social club aimed at reforming New Orleans’ public education system. During his work in activism, a law for the segregating of public facilities was developed in 1890. This inspired Plessy to challenge this law with guidance from a group called the Citizens Committee. This committee consisted of a group of New Orleans citizens led by Mary Aristide and was developed in September 1891. Their goal was to fight against segregation and more specifically, the Separate Car Act. In 1892 Plessy purchased a first-class ticket aboard the East Louisiana Railroad and sat in the segregated section of the train reserved for white passengers only. Once he was seated in this section, he told people that he was a person of mixed race, but he refused to ride in the segregated section. For his actions Plessy was jailed and eventually convicted by a New Orleans court for the violation of segregation laws establish in 1890. Plessy would eventually file a petition against the courts and judge John H. Ferguson, claiming his 14th Amendment rights had been violated. After several years had passed, a verdict was finally given in the case known as Plessy v. Ferguson. The decision was that the separate but equal laws were still constitutional, and the protections of 14th Amendment only applied to the civil and political rights and not social rights such as choosing to sit in segregated area. The court’s decision was that the segregation of rail cars was not a violation, and no amendments had been violated. This ruling meant that the segregation was deemed legal if the facilities for both blacks and whites were equal. This decision had such a powerful impact because it showed the federal government’s unwillingness to challenge segregation and basically justified the oppression of African Americans in the south and reinforced Jim Crow law. Following this decision, the region saw an increase in violence and injustices. An African American journalist named Ida B. Wells would take brave steps in documenting and spreading knowledge about this violence.

    For decades Wells would devote her time and effort on campaigning against Jim Crow law and all the violence associated with it. Wells owned a newspaper, and she would write about what she saw happening to her fellow citizens. As a skilled writer, these stories helped to make known what people were truly experiencing, and she hoped her work would make it so that American society could no longer ignore what was taking place. The information she was collecting, and publishing made Wells a target and she often faced threats and violence. Ida B. Wells was a founder of the National Association of Colored Women’s Club, a group dedicated to fighting the issues that dealt with civil rights and women’s suffrage. In the article titled, IDA WELLS BARNETT (1862-1931), author Tyina Steptoe mentions how Wells was a founding member of National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (Steptoe, 2007). Her work was a milestone in American journalism and an inspiration to many other activists. Another notable person who had great influence during the Jim Crow era, and another founder of NAACP, was a man named W.E.B. Du Bois. Du Bois was an African American writer, historian and civil rights activist. During his life, Du Bois published a vast number of articles, books and essays, on the topic of race relations in America. As well as being one of the founders of the NAACP, Du Bois also founded the Niagara Movement in 1905. This movement was created after Du Bois and others were denied admittance to hotels in Buffalo, New York. The Niagara Movement was mainly focused on the issues of crime, economics and education. This movement and its members truly stood out to the entire country because of its powerful demand for equal rights and the call for an end to segregation and all other aspects of Jim Crow law. According to Stephanie Christensen, author of NIAGARA MOVEMENT (1905-1909), “The Niagara Movement was considered the precursor to the NAACP and many of its members, such as W.E.B. DuBois, were among the new organization’s founders” (1). A crucial event that helped to counter the harsh and unfair laws in Jim Crows American, was the case of Brown v. Board of Education (1954). A young girl by the name of Linda Brown was denied entry to an all-white elementary school located in Topeka, Kansas. This denial was of course due to the ruling of legalized segregation masked by the term of separate but equal. After this incident, the girl’s father, a man named Oliver Brown file a suit against the Board of Education of Topeka, along with help from the NAACP. This case was a consolidation of four separate class-action suits being filed in four states by the NAACP. They worked on behalf of African American elementary and high school students, all who had been denied admission to all-white public schools. Brown would argue the fact that schools for African American children were no equal to those of whites and furthermore the act of segregating these children due to race was having a negative impact. This case would reach the supreme court where Brown and his team would argue that the impacts of segregation on these children were affecting their self-esteem and over all outlook on life. Being separated made it seem as if they were inferior and as young developing children this can be damaging if a child grows up believing that they truly are inferior. The opposing side would argue that everything was being done to create equality for whites and non-whites. They pointed to the Plessy decision that took place in 1896 and used it to support the segregation policies. They then argued that they had indeed created equal facilities, although the races were segregated. They also argued, discrimination by race did not harm children in any way. With the help of Thurgood Marshall, an experienced civil rights activist and lawyer as well as help from community activists, parents and students, the case was strongly argued, and a decision was finally reached. A unanimous decision by the supreme court ruled in favor of Brown. They ruled the practice of segregation unconstitutional. The courts refused to apply its decision in the Plessy v. Ferguson case to educational aspects. They agreed that segregation in public education denied African American children equal protection of laws established by the Fourteenth Amendment. They were able to recognize how important the education system is to the American way of life and how it can be seen as the foundation for good values and citizenship in a developing child.

    The U.S. Supreme Court’s decision on the Brown v. Board of Education case marked a turning point in the history of racism and saw the beginning of the end for segregation and all Jim Crow laws. The decades-long effort of so many brave men, women and children were starting to pay off. President Lyndon B. Johnson signed the Civil Rights Act in 1964, which legally ended discrimination and segregation that had been established under Jim Crow laws. The Voting Rights Act established in 1965 helped to put a stop to unjust efforts in keeping minorities from voting.

    Things were starting to move in the right direction in the fight for equal rights and equality, though there was still a great need for further improvement. The sacrifices of all civil rights activist who decided to rise and fight in order to gain such progress, will remain a significant part of U.S. history and their names will live on. In the book, The civil rights reader: American literature from Jim Crow to reconciliation, therea poem titled,” It’s Nation Time”, by author Amiri Baraka. I believe this poem does a great job expressing the over all feeling of African American citizens during the end of the Jim Crow era. It gave the idea of there being a sense of unity and a newfound feeling of progress being made. It was time now more than ever for people to rally together and embrace the potential that was inside of themselves. To keep this momentum going and continue the fight for the equality of all men and women.

    • Steptoe, Tyina. “Ida Wells Barnett (1862-1931) • BlackPast.” BlackPast, 11 May 2019, www.blackpast.org/african-american-history/barnett-ida-wells-1862-1931/.
    • Christensen, Stephanie. “Niagara Movement (1905-1909) • BlackPast.” BlackPast, 17 May 2019, www.blackpast.org/african-american-history/niagara-movement-1905-1909/.
    • Armstrong, J. B., & Schmidt, A. (2009). The civil rights reader: American literature from Jim Crow to reconciliation. Athens: University of Georgia Press.


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    What Were the Jim Crow Laws?

    Jim Crow laws, for the most part, are relatively simple. Most states (over 30), including those outside of the South, had laws against interracial marriage, a crime known as miscegenation. The remaining laws against this were overturned by the Supreme Court in 1967, in the Loving v. Virginia case. Some states went further than this, such as Florida, which banned both interracial dating and cohabitation. Schools, restaurants, theaters and cinemas, hotels and train stations were commonly separated by law, but sometimes baseball teams and prisons were segregated by law, as in Georgia. Mississippi criminalized anti-Jim Crow propaganda. North Carolina banned the sharing of books between black and white schools.

    The History of Minstrel Shows and Jim Crow

    Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History Summer Teachers’ Seminar
    Hosted by the Gilder Lehrman Center for the Study of Slavery, Resistance, and Abolition
    July 6-12, 2014
    Yale University, New Haven, Connecticut

    Instructor: Jonathan Holloway (Edmund S. Morgan Professor of African American Studies, History, and American Studies)
    Gilder Lehrman Institute Master Teacher: Michael Galatioto
    Gilder Lehrman Center Program Coordinator: David Spatz

    Course Overview:
    This seminar explores the rise of Jim Crow in the United States and tracks it forward to its modern post-civil rights manifestations. Seminar participants worked with a range of primary sources to interpret the shifting social, economic, political, psychological, and cultural trauma associated with this set of racial practices. Close attention will be paid to the effects of Jim Crow on both sides of the color line.

    Lesson Plans

    As part of the program, lesson plans were developed by the teachers who participated in the summer seminar.

    Yale Jim Crow Seminar
    Ellen Greenberg
    The History of Minstrel Shows and Jim Crow
    Created for a 90-minute block or two 45-minute blocks

    Importance and Historical Context of the Topic
    Images of black identity created by minstrel shows satirized blacks as singing, dancing, grinning fools. Actors/musicians blackened their faces with burnt cork and used other make-up material that demeaned African Americans for the pleasure of the viewing audience. It was the first example of the way American popular culture would exploit and manipulate blacks and their culture to entertain and benefit whites. Minstrels were portrayed as happy-go-lucky slaves who were too simple to accomplish anything but uncomplicated farm work.

    Jim Crow is considered to be the first minstrel character, created by Thomas Dartmouth “Daddy” Rice in 1828. Rice was an unemployed actor who said he came upon a black man singing the song “Jump Jim Crow” and imitated that man’s mannerisms to construct what became known as the iconic Jim Crow. No one knows if the man was an old black slave who had difficulty walking or a tattered black stable boy, as different accounts of the meeting exist. Either way, Rice is widely known as the “Father of American Minstrelsy” as Jim Crow became a staple character in many shows, along with friends Jim Dandy and Zip Coon.

    Within ten years of the character’s creation, the term Jim Crow was used as a negative nickname for African Americans, along the same lines as racial epithets coon or darkie. However, by the end of the 19th century Jim Crow was more likely to be used to describe the state laws which limited freedoms and rights blacks had gained as a result of the Civil war amendments during Reconstruction. There are many ways to characterize these laws since they limited and separated African Americans in virtually every aspect of society.

    North Carolina 11th Grade United States History Objectives

    3.01 SWBAT… Trace the economic, social, and political events from the Mexican War to the outbreak of the Civil War.

    3.04 SWBAT… Analyze the political, economic, and social impact of Reconstruction on the nation and identify the reasons why Reconstruction came to an end.

    Essential Questions

    * How did the images of black identity created by minstrel shows affect both white and black audiences?
    * How can we categorize specific Jim Crow laws and assess possible effects of those laws?

    Warm-up (Motivational Introduction to Lessons)

    Show “Oliver Scott’s Minstrels” advertisement and have students answer the following questions:

    * Describe the images of African Americans. What stereotypes do you see?
    * What do you think is being advertised?
    * What can you assume about the product in the advertisement?
    * Can you imagine this poster in today’s world? Explain your answer.

    1. Short lecture and discussion about history of minstrel shows and their place in American society (see introduction). Video available online: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3zj6o_DZfSw

    2. Poem: Minstrel Man by Langston Hughes Available online: http://www.favoritepoem.org/poem_MinstrelMan.html In cooperative learning groups, students will analyze the poem and answer the following questions:

    1. Who is his audience?
    2. Describe the images you picture when you read the poem.
    3. Explain the message you think Hughes hopes to convey.
    4. Analyze what this poem tells you about the reactions of black people and white people to minstrel performers. Why might the reactions be different based on your race?
    5. Why do you think Hughes wrote this poem?

    3. Song: “Jump Jim Crow” by Thomas Dartmouth “Daddy” Rice
    In cooperative learning groups, students will be given a handout of the lyrics to the song (with a picture of the character for them to see) and the directions below. The song will then play twice or three times. A recording of the song is available here: http://americanradioworks.publicradio.org/features/remembering/bitter.html

    1. Try to determine what the singer is saying in today’s Standard English. Translate as many lyrics as you can. Yes, guessing is OK!
    2. Why is this song sung in imagined slave dialect?
    3. Why did the imagined slave dialect exist at all?

    4. Short lecture and discussion about who Jim Crow was and what he represented will lead into an introduction to Jim Crow Laws.

    5. Laws: Jim Crow Laws Throughout the South
    In cooperative learning groups, students will receive a list of Jim Crow laws and follow the directions below. A list of sample laws can be found at: http://americanradioworks.publicradio.org/features/remembering/laws.html

    1. Create at least four categories in which to place each law, based on the topics and themes you see on your list.
    2. Place each law into a category on a graphic organizer that you create and be prepared to share that chart with your classmates. Remember, we are not simply compiling a list!

    Questions for students (ticket out the door or homework)

    1. Describe how minstrel shows and the images portrayed for entertainment evolved into Jim Crow Laws. Be sure to include the effects on both blacks and whites.
    2. Choose one Jim Crow law and explain possible (or actual) consequences of that law.

    Applications to Today’s World

    1. Describe a situation where a stereotypical image of a race has been designed recently with another motive in mind.
    2. Have you seen negative stereotypes created for entertainment cross over into politics recently? If so, where and what images have you noticed? Why do people create these images?

    Minstrel Man by Langston Hughes (written in 1932)
    Because my mouth
    Is wide with laughter
    And my throat
    Is deep with song,
    You do not think
    I suffer after
    I have held my pain
    So long?

    Because my mouth
    Is wide with laughter,
    You do not hear
    My inner cry?
    Because my feet
    Are gay with dancing,
    You do not know
    I die?

    Jump Jim Crow by Thomas Dartmouth “Daddy” Rice (first performed in 1828)
    Come, listen, all you gals and boys, I’m just from Tuckyhoe
    I’m gwine to sing a little song, My name’s Jim Crow.
    Chorus: Wheel about, an’ turn about, an’ do jis so Eb’ry time I wheel about, I jump Jim Crow
    I went down to de river, I didn’t mean to stay,
    But there I see so many gals, I couldn’t get away.
    I’m rorer on de fiddle, an’ down in ole Virginny,
    Dey say I play de sklentific, like massa Paganini.
    I cut so many munky shines, I dance de gallopade
    An’ w’en I done, I res’ my head, on shubble, hoe or spade.
    I met Miss Dina Scrub one day, I gib her such a buss
    An’ den she turn an’ slap my face, an’ make a mighty fuss.
    De udder gals dey ‘gin to fight, I tel’d dem wait a bit
    I’d hab dem all, jis one by one, as I tourt fit.
    I wip de lion ob de west, I eat de alligator
    I put more water in my mouf, den boil ten load ob ‘tator.
    De way dey bake de hoe cake, Virginny nebber tire
    Dey put de doe upon de foot, an’ stick ‘em in de fire.



    “In our glorious fight for civil rights, we must guard against being fooled by false slogans such as ‘right to work,’” Martin Luther King, Jr. said in 1964. “It is a law to rob us of our civil rights and job rights.

    “Its purpose is to destroy labor unions and the freedom of collective bargaining by which unions have improved wages and working conditions for everyone…Wherever these laws have been passed, wages are lower, job opportunities are fewer, and there are no civil rights.”

    That’s still true. Union organizing has proven the most effective measure out there for lifting wages in general, and for reducing racial inequality. The upsurge of public sector unionism in the 1960s and ’70s was a particular boon to Black communities, since they were strongly represented in public employment—and Black workers led many of those union fights, often inspired by the civil rights movement.

    Today workers of color remain strongly represented in the public sector, and the attacks on public sector unions still have a racist character.

    Watch the video: Who Was Jim Crow? Lets Teach Interesting Facts