Jim Crow 101
A few facts regarding one of the racially segregated laws in the U.S.
Jim Crow laws were state and local laws that enforced racial segregation in the Southern United States and elsewhere within the United States. These laws were enacted in the late 19th and early 20th centuries by white Southern Democrat-dominated state legislatures to disenfranchise and remove political and economic gains made by black people during the Reconstruction period. Jim Crow laws were enforced until 1965.
In other words, the segregation and disenfranchisement laws known as “Jim Crow” represented a formal, codified system of racial apartheid that dominated the American South for three quarters of a century beginning in the 1890s. The laws affected almost every aspect of daily life, mandating segregation of schools, parks, libraries, drinking fountains, restrooms, buses, trains, and restaurants. “Whites Only” and “Colored” signs were constant reminders of the enforced racial order.
“Jim Crow” was a derisive slang term for a black man. It came to mean any state law passed in the South that established different rules for blacks and whites. Jim Crow laws were based on the theory of white supremacy and were a reaction to Reconstruction. In the depression-racked 1890s, racism appealed to whites who feared losing their jobs to blacks. Politicians abused blacks to win the votes of poor white “crackers.” Newspapers fed the bias of white readers by playing up (sometimes even making up) black crimes.
Jim Crow laws touched every part of life. For example, in South Carolina, black and white textile workers could not work in the same room, enter through the same door, or gaze out of the same window. Many industries wouldn’t hire blacks: Many unions passed rules to exclude them.
Jim Crow Laws | American Experience | PBS
Freedom Riders | Article The segregation and disenfranchisement laws known as "Jim Crow" represented a formal, codified…
For Further Reading
Packard, Jerrald M. American Nightmare: The History of Jim Crow. New York: St. Martin’s Press. 2002.
Chafe, William H. Remembering Jim Crow: African Americans Tell about Life in the Segregated South. New York: The New Press. 2001.