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Jim Crow Laws

Jim Crow laws are about power. Power of one race over another. These laws really highlight the flaws and weakness of human nature. One group of people asserting power over another for the pride and vanity of a system of politics that had been defeated at the cost of thousands of American lives during the civil war. The term “Jim Crow” has its origins of interest also. The interpretation was intended to ridicule the African American by white American’s in the position of power.

The Jim Crow laws were initiated after the civil war during the deconstruction of the new south and they help to create a racial caste system in the American South. These laws were protected by the constitution and were a form of constitutional racism. When the Supreme Court ruled on Plessy v. Ferguson the Federal Government legalized racism but under the guise of a doctrine referred to as “separate but equal”. The Jim Crow laws were in place until the Supreme Court of 1954 threw them out with it’s ruling on Brown v. The Board of Education of Topeka. This court had a different opinion of equality.

Soon after the Reconstruction, African Americans and whites Americans ate in the same restaurants, often rode together in the same railway cars, used the same public facilities, but did not often interact as equals. The development of large black communities in urban areas and the significant black labor force in factories presented a new challenge to white Southerners. They could not control these new communities in the same informal ways they had been able to control rural black Americans, which were more directly dependent on white landowners and merchants (sharecropping system) than their urban counterparts.

In the city, blacks and whites were in more direct competition than they had been in the countryside. There was more danger of social mixing. The city, therefore, required different, and more rigidly institutionalized, systems of control, henceforth Jim Crow laws. The Jim Crow laws were a response to the new reality that required the white supremacy to move to where it would have a more rigid legal and institutional basis to retain control over the black population.

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Home » Law » Jim Crow Laws

Jim Crow Laws

Jim Crow Laws are laws that were passed by southern legislatures that segregated, or separated, different racial groups in public places. The state of Alabama had many of these laws, and their effect on the African Americans of that state was great. In Alabama, a lot of Jim Crow Laws were created. These laws were very specific in telling how and where races were to be segregated. These laws included separation in buses, trains, restaurants, pool and billiard rooms, male toilet facilities, and hospitals. Bus stations required separate waiting rooms and ticket windows for whites and blacks.

Trains must have the conductor divide different races into different cars of the train. In restaurants, it was illegal to have whites and blacks in the same room, unless they were separated by a seven foot or higher wall, and there must be different street entrances for the two races. Another law said that blacks and whites cannot legally play together in any game of pool or billiards.

Employers of both black and white males must provide easily accessible separate toilet facilities for them. Finally, the last Alabama Jim Crow Law said that nurses cannot be forced to nurse in wards or rooms in hospitals, public or private, where black men are placed. Jim Crow Laws have a long history that includes many court cases and disputes. Southern legislatures passed these segregation laws to create a social separation system and to keep whites as the supreme race in the south. They were also passed because after the Civil War the two races were able to do things together, but werent equals. Jim Crow Laws stopped the merge, and kept them separated.

The first court case that challenged segregation was Plessy V. Ferguson in 1896. Homer Plessy filed a lawsuit because he felt that he was segregated unfairly on a train. The Supreme Court said that segregation was legal as long as facilities for blacks and whites were equal (separate but equal). This decision led to and outburst of more Jim Crow Laws in the southern states. The next court case was Guinn V. the United States in 1915. In this ruling, the Supreme Court said that Grandfather Clauses, laws that said you could vote if your father or grandfather could vote before 1867, were unconstitutional.

Buchanan V. Worley (1917) uled against residential segregation in the state of Kentucky. The final case that battled segregation was Brown V. Board of Education in Kansas in 1954, that declared segregation in schools unconstitutional. African Americans were effected heavily by these laws that discriminated against their race. Blacks didnt like being separate, and their lives were changed because of Jim Crow Laws. The Delany family was one such black family that were slaves in the nineteenth century, and lived during this time period that Jim Crow Laws were in affect. When these laws came out, the family had much to say.

Said Sadie Delany: We knew we were second class citizens, but those Jim Crow Laws set it in stone. Said Papa Delany: All people are the same. They came from the same place, are going to the same place, and while theyre here, they do the same things. The only difference between you and anyone else is that compared to most negroes, you have better training. As you can see, Jim Crow Laws had a great effect on the African Americans in the south. These laws brought about the Civil Rights Movement, and were a very important part of both American and African American history.

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