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Essays on Jim Crow Laws

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Brief overview
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Main Ideas

Jim Crow laws are local and state laws that enforce racial segregation in the Southern part of the US. Some other areas in the US were also affected by the policies of segregation, but many of them adopted laws that banned discrimination in voting and public accommodations.

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Origin

The Jim Crow laws were enacted in the late 19th and early 20th century. They originated from the white Southern Democrate-dominated state legislatures in order to remove economic and political gains made by African American people during the Reconstruction period. They were enforced until 1965.

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Cause

These laws mandated racial segregation in every public facilities in the states of the Confederate States of America, as well as a few others. They were upheld in the case of Plessy vs. Ferguson in 1896 where the US Supreme Court laid out the ‘separate but equal’ doctrine for facilities for black people.

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Outcome

As a result of these laws, public education was segregated in most of the South after the Civil War. In theory, this segregation doctrine was extended to transportation and public facilities. However, the facilities for African Americans were inferior and underfunded unlike the white American facilities that had proper funding. Not to mention, the black community had no facilities for many purposes whatsoever. Instead of equality, Jim Crow institutionalized educational, political, economic, and social disadvantages for most African Americans that lived in the US.

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Key Quotes
  • “Marriages are void when one party is a white person and the other is possessed of one-eighth or more negro, Japanese, or Chinese blood.” - Nebraska, 1911
  • “Separate free schools shall be established for the education of children of African descent; and it shall be unlawful for any colored child to attend any white school, or any white child to attend a colored school.” - Missouri, 1929
  • “Being in servitude to the Anglo-Saxon race, I was not put into a "Jim Crow car," on our way to Rockaway, neither was I invited to ride through the streets on the top of trunks in a truck; but every where I found the same manifestations of that cruel prejudice, which so discourages the feelings, and represses the energies of the colored people.” - Harriet Ann Jacobs, Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl"
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Interesting Facts
  • "After the NAACP was founded in 1909, it led sustained public protests on this doctrine. In 1954, segregation of education was declared unconstitutional by the US Supreme Court. The remaining Jim Crow laws were overruled by the Voting Rights Act of 1965 and the Civil Rights Act of 1964.
  • The phrase ‘Jim Crow’ originates to ‘Jump Jim Crow’, a dance and song caricature of black people that was performed by Thomas D. Rice, a white actor in blackface. This caricature is from 1828 and was used to satirize the populist policies of Andrew Jackson.
  • By 1838, because of ‘Jump Jim Crow’s fame, this became a pejorative expression for “Negro”. "
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