Examples of Jim Crow laws
Examples of Jim Crow laws
Where does Jim Crow laws come from?
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The term Jim Crow predates the Civil War. Jim Crow was the name of a fictional character—an unintelligent, foolish caricature of a black slave—played in blackface makeup by white actor Thomas Dartmouth “Daddy” Rice in minstrel shows in the early 1830s. Rice claimed to have gotten the name from a real life occurrence where he heard an older black man singing a song called “Jump Jim Crow,” which Rice then appropriated for his minstrel show. In the 1800s, the popularity of these shows across the country turned the name Jim Crow into an ethnic slur against black people.
Though the 13th Amendment to the US Constitution finally abolished the practice of slavery in the United States in 1865 at the end of the Civil War, the struggles of the African American population did not magically end there. The black population faced many obstacles and widespread prejudice during the Reconstruction period. In 1890 the Louisiana General Assembly passed a law requiring that black and white citizens use separate cars when traveling on a train, a decision which was then cemented by the 1896 Supreme Court under the ruling of “separate but equal” in Plessy v. Ferguson. This opened the doors to a wave of restrictive laws all across the southern US to curb the rights of black people, and by 1899, one such law in North Carolina had been dubbed “the Jim Crow law” and “the color line.” Other Jim Crow laws involved segregating schools by skin color (with the black schools getting much less funding, therefore suffering in quality and condition), the segregation of hospitals, a curfew for black citizens, requirements for black people and white people to use separate public bathrooms, water fountains, and entrances, among numerous other examples. New Jim Crow laws continued being passed into the mid-20th century.
After decades of protests, legal battles, and the Civil Rights movement, Jim Crow laws were officially ended when widespread black protests and political pressure convinced the government to pass the Civil Rights act of 1964, the Voting Rights Act of 1965, and the Fair Housing Act of 1968, which together outlawed states from discriminating against any individual on the basis of race.
The legacy of Jim Crow laws, however, continue to this day, as black populations in the United States have had to continue fighting for voting rights, struggling against institutional racism in legal and economic systems, and battling the mass incarceration of black males, which has been deemed “The New Jim Crow.” In conversation, discussions of laws that are seen as oppressive toward minorities are often compared to (or referred to as) Jim Crow, and many have argued that Jim Crow never truly ended, given the US’s ongoing struggles with racism.