The Jim Crow Laws

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The Jim Crow Laws hurt the lives of many African American people, causing them great grief and prompting a loss of hope for them to ever getting equal rights, however this did not diminish their determination to keep on trying until they got the rights that they deserved. Looking back on how life was way back then, it seems much more clear to us now than it did during the time of the laws. Clearer so in a sense that we question even today as to why such laws even came to be.They were enforced so heavily that African americans had no choice but to follow them, with no escape or hope for enlightenment on them. With the huge impact that the laws had on African Americans, and the way that if affected them, is seems quite derogatory that even the name: Jim Crow Laws, would disconsolate African Americans even more.

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Part one : Jim Crow origins

Quote: I can ride in first-class cars on the railroads and in the streets, wrote journalist T. McCants Stewart. I can stop in and drink a glass of soda and be more politely waited upon than in some parts of New England. Perhaps Stewart’s comments don’t seem newsworthy. Considering that he was reporting from South Carolina in 1885 and he was black. (1) This is the how life was in the south at the time. African Americans were discriminated against, treated unfairly and their rights were restricted. Even though the Jim Crow Laws were not the main discrimination that African Americans were facing, it was the worst thing that they were facing at the time. The term Jim Crow itself, typically refers to repressive laws and customs once used to restrict black rights, but the origin of the name itself dates back to before the Civil War. In the early 1830s, an actor by the name of Thomas Dartmouth Rice was propelled to stardom for performing minstrel routines as the fictional Jim Crow (a caricature of a inept, uncoordinated black slave). Rice claimed to have first created the character after witnessing an elderly black man singing a tune called Jump Jim Crow.

After some time Rice decided to turn the Jim Crow persona into a minstrel act where he donned blackface and performed jokes and songs in a stereotypical slave dialect. Rice’s racist actions and wrongful display of a joke appealed to a huge variety of his audiences, and he later took it on tour around the United States and Great Britain. With increasing popularity in his famous acts the term Jim Crow became widespread as a natural derogatory, or negative term for African Americans.

Jim Crow’s popularity as a fictional character eventually died out, but in the late 19th century the phrase found new life as a blanket term for a wave of anti-black laws laid down after Reconstruction. Some of the most common laws included restrictions on voting rights. Bans on interracial relationships and clauses that allowed businesses to separate both black and white clientele. The segregationist philosophy of separate but equal was later upheld in the famous 1896 Supreme Court decision Plessy vs. Ferguson, in which the Court ruled that the state of Louisiana had the right to require different railroad cars for blacks and whites. The Plessy decision would eventually lead to widespread adoption of segregated restaurants, public bathrooms, water fountains and other facilities. Separate but equal was eventually abrogated in the 1954 Supreme Court Case Brown vs. Board of Education, but Jim Crow’s legacy would continue to endure in some Southern states until the 1970s.

Jim Crow laws existed mainly in the South and originated from the Black Codes that were passed from 1865 to 1866 and from pre-war segregation on railroad cars in northern cities. The laws sprouted up in the late 19th century after Reconstruction and lasted until the 1960s.

The Reconstruction Amendments were intended to extend the rights of citizenship to African Americans. The Thirteenth Amendment (1865) abolished slavery; the Fourteenth Amendment (1868) extended equal protection of the laws to all citizens; and the Fifteenth Amendment (1870) guaranteed that the right to vote could not be denied on account of race, color, or previous condition of servitude. Even though this was the law and many saw it this way, there were some that would still

Part two : The effects of the Jim crow laws

The Jim Crow laws had a detrimental effect on African Americans’ way of life. They lived in highly segregated areas, having segregated modes of transport, (aside from cars, which were obviously that way too) with segregated schools, and segregated restaurants, pretty much anything that multiple people use or could be in at the same time would be segregated. Both segregation and discrimination go way deeper than just the normal areas of living. It even affects some forms of etiquette and even how African Americans can communicate with other races.

African Americans could not really do anything about these laws, for they were laws that were enforced very heavily by the people that follow them and the people that want them to stay.

Prior to the Civil War, the inferior status of slaves made it unnecessary to pass laws segregating them from white people. Both races could work side by side so long as the slave recognized his subordinate, unjust, position. In the cities, where most free blacks lived, rudimentary forms of segregation existed prior to 1860, but no uniform pattern emerged. In the North free blacks also laboured under harsh restrictions and often found an even more-rigid segregation than in the South.

Part three : The fight against the laws

A good example of instances of rebellion is how, in 1948, President Harry Truman took decisive action to promote racial equality by urging Congress to abolish the poll tax, enforce fair voting, hiring practices, and end Jim Crow transportation between states. Four Southern states abandoned Truman’s Democratic Party in protest. Then, as commander in chief, Truman ordered the complete integration of the armed forces. He did not wipe out racism, but, trained to obey commands, officers compiled as best they could. In the mid-1950s Americans remained deeply divided over the issue of racial equality. African Americans pressed to have the Brown decision enforced, and many people were unprepared for the intensity of resistance among white southerners. Likewise, defenders of what they called the southern way of life underestimated the determination of their African American neighbors. In other words, they did not expect for African Americans to care so much about what whites thought was fallacious and unethical. This underestimation is what allowed African Americans some free room to really get out their message through non-violent protests about how they were being treated and how it was wrong.

The movement for African American civil rights began long before the Brown court decision and continued long after. Still, the defeat of the separate-but-equal legal doctrine undercut one of the major pillars of white supremacy in America. In the decades that followed, a heroic ongoing campaign for civil rights has lifted the nation closer to its ideals of freedom.

IN CONCLUSION

The laws that restricted the rights of African Americans were unfair and unjust to them and to their way of life. The undermined race would eventually gain equality, with enough willpower and determination that they have been building up throughout all of the suffering. The journey, although rough at first, was worth the ending result of peace between all races regardless of color.

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The Jim Crow Laws. (2020, Mar 10). Retrieved July 7, 2022 , from
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