Discuss the factors that contributed to Jim Crow segregation in mining towns and in farming areas.
The Jim Crow laws excluded black people from public transport and facilities, juries, jobs, and neighborhoods. The passage of the 13th, 14th, and 15th Amendments to the Constitution had granted blacks the same legal protections as whites. However, after 1877, and the election of Republican Rutherford B. Hayes as president, southern and border states began restricting the liberties of blacks. The Supreme Court helped undermine the Constitutional protections of blacks with the infamous Plessy v. Ferguson (1896) ruling, which legitimised Jim Crow laws and the Jim Crow way of life.
In 1890, Louisiana passed the Separate Car Law, which purported to 'aid passenger comfort' by creating "equal but separate" cars for blacks and whites. This was a ruse. No public accommodations, including railway travel, provided blacks with equal facilities. The Louisiana law made it illegal for blacks to sit in coach seats reserved for whites, and whites could not sit in seats reserved for blacks. In 1891, a group of blacks decided to test the Jim Crow law. They had Homer A. Plessy, who was seven-eights white and one-eighth black (therefore, black), sit in the white-only railroad coach. He was arrested. Plessy's lawyer argued that Louisiana did not have the right to label one citizen as white and another black for the purpose of restricting their rights and privileges. In Plessy, the Supreme Court stated that so long as state governments provided legal process and legal freedoms for blacks, equal to those of whites, they could maintain separate institutions to facilitate these rights. The Court, by a 7-2 vote, upheld the Louisiana law, declaring that racial separation did not necessarily mean an abrogation of equality. In practice, Plessy represented the legitimisation of two societies: one white, and advantaged; the other, black, disadvantaged and despised.
Blacks were denied the right to vote by grandfather clauses (laws that restricted the right to vote to people whose ancestors had voted before the Civil War), poll taxes (fees charged to poor blacks), white primaries (only Democrats could vote, only whites could be Democrats), and literacy tests ("Name all the Vice Presidents and Supreme Court Justices throughout America's history"). Plessy sent the message to southern and border states that discrimination against blacks was acceptable.
Jim Crow laws touched every aspect of everyday life. For example, in 1935, Oklahoma prohibited blacks and whites from boating together. Boating implied social equality. In 1905, Georgia established separate parks for blacks and whites. In 1930, Birmingham, Alabama, made it illegal for blacks and whites to play checkers or dominoes together. Some of the typical Jim Crow laws included:
Barbers. No coloured barber shall serve as a barber (to) white girls or women (Georgia).
Blind Wards. The board of trustees shall...maintain a separate building...on separate ground for the admission, care, instruction, and support of all blind persons of the coloured or black race (Louisiana).
Burial. The officer in charge shall not bury, or allow to be buried, any coloured persons upon ground set apart or used for the burial of white persons (Georgia).
Buses. All passenger stations in this state operated by any motor transportation company shall have separate waiting rooms or space and separate ticket windows for the white and coloured races (Alabama).
Child Custody. It shall be unlawful for any parent, relative, or other white person in this State, having the control or custody of any white child, by right of guardianship, natural or acquired, or otherwise, to dispose of, give or surrender such white child permanently into the custody, control, maintenance, or support, of a negro (South Carolina).
Education. The schools for white children and the schools for negro children shall be conducted separately (Florida).
Libraries. The state librarian is directed to fit up and maintain a separate place for the use of the coloured people who may come to the library for the purpose of reading books or periodicals (North Carolina).
Mental Hospitals. The Board of Control shall see that proper and distinct apartments are arranged for said patients, so that in no case shall negroes and white persons be together (Georgia).
Militia. The white and coloured militia shall be separately enrolled, and shall never be compelled to serve in the same organisation. No organisation of coloured troops shall be permitted where white troops are available and where whites are permitted to be organised, coloured troops shall be under the command of white officers (North Carolina).
Nurses. No person or corporation shall require any white female nurse to nurse in wards or rooms in hospitals, either public or private, in which negro men are placed (Alabama).
Prisons. The warden shall see that the white convicts shall have separate apartments for both eating and sleeping from the negro convicts (Mississippi).
Reform Schools. The children of white and coloured races committed to the houses of reform shall be kept entirely separate from each other (Kentucky).
Teaching. Any instructor who shall teach in any school, college or institution where members of the white and coloured race are received and enrolled as pupils for instruction shall be deemed guilty of a misdemeanor, and upon conviction thereof, shall be fined (Oklahoma).
Wine and Beer. All persons licensed to conduct the business of selling beer or wine...shall serve either white people exclusively or coloured people exclusively and shall not sell to the two races within the same room at any time (Georgia).
The Jim Crow laws were underpinned by violence, real and threatened. Blacks who violated Jim Crow norms, for example, drinking from the white water fountain or trying to vote, risked their homes, their jobs, even their lives. Whites could physically beat blacks with impunity. Blacks had little legal recourse against these assaults because the Jim Crow criminal justice system was all-white: police, prosecutors, judges, juries, and prison officials. Jim Crow was a method of social control, based on violence, with the most extreme forms being lynchings. Lynchings were public, often sadistic, murders carried out by mobs. Between 1882, when the first reliable data were collected, and 1968, when lynchings had become rare, there were 4,730 known lynchings, including 3,440 black men and women. Most of the victims of Lynch-Law were hanged or shot, but some were burned at the stake, castrated, beaten with clubs, or dismembered. In the mid-1800s, whites constituted the majority of victims (and perpetrators); however, by the period of Radical Reconstruction, blacks became the most frequent lynching victims. This is an early indication that lynching was used as an intimidation tool to keep blacks, in this case the newly-freed men, 'in their place'. The great majority of lynchings occurred in southern and border states, where the resentment against blacks ran deepest. Many whites claimed that although lynchings were distasteful, they were necessary supplements to the criminal justice system because blacks were prone to violent crimes, especially the rapes of white women. It is estimated that approximately one-third of all the victims were falsely accused.
Under Jim Crow any and all sexual interactions between black men and white women was illegal, illicit, socially repugnant, and within the Jim Crow definition of rape. Although only 19.2 percent of the lynching victims between 1882 to 1951 were even accused of rape, Lynch law was often supported on the popular belief that lynchings were necessary to protect white women from black rapists. There is reason to believe that this figure was inflated by the fact that a mob which made the accusation of rape was secure from any further investigation; by the broad Southern definition of rape to include all sexual relations between Negro men and white women; and by the psychopathic fears of white women in their contacts with Negro men. Most blacks were lynched for demanding civil rights, violating Jim Crow etiquette or laws, or in the aftermath of race riots.
Lynchings were most common in small and middle-sized towns where blacks often were economic competitors to the local whites. These whites resented any economic and political gains made by blacks. Lynchers were seldomly arrested, and if arrested, rarely convicted. At least one-half of the lynchings were carried out with police officers participating, and that in nine-tenths of the others the officers either condoned the mob action. Lynching served many purposes: it was cheap entertainment; it served as a rallying, uniting point for whites; it functioned as an ego-massage for low-income, low-status whites; it was a method of defending white domination and helped stop or retard the fledgling social equality movement. Lynch mobs directed their hatred against one (sometimes several) victims. The victim was an example of what happened to a black man who tried to vote, or who looked at a white woman, or who tried to secure a white man's job. Sometimes the mob was not satisfied to murder a single or several victims. Instead, the mobs went into black communities and destroyed additional lives and property. Their immediate goal was to drive out, through death or expulsion, all blacks; the larger goal was to maintain, at all costs, white supremacy. Interestingly, these mass lynchings were primarily urban phenomena, whereas the lynching of single victims was primarily a rural phenomenon.
1919 has been described as The Red Summer, with race riots in Chicago, Illinois; Knoxville and Nashville, Tennessee; Charleston, South Carolina; Omaha, Nebraska; and two dozen other cities. During that year 77 Negroes were lynched, of whom fourteen were publicly burned, eleven of them alive. There were also race riots in Wilmington, North Carolina (1898); Atlanta, Georgia (1906); Springfield, Illinois (1908); East St. Louis, Illinois (1917); Tulsa, Oklahoma (1921); and Detroit, Michigan (1943). The riots had several things in common: with few exceptions, it was white people who sparked the incident by attacking black people; in most cases, some extraordinary social condition prevailed at the time of the riot such as prewar social changes, wartime mobility, post-war adjustment, or economic depression; rumours of some criminal activity by blacks against whites perpetuated the actions of the white mobs; in almost every case, the police sided with the attackers, either by actually participating in, or by failing to quell the attack. The mass media, especially newspapers, often published inflammatory articles about "Black criminals" immediately before the riots; blacks were not only killed, but their homes and businesses were looted, and many who did not flee were left homeless. The goal of the white rioters, as was true of white lynchers of single victims, was to instil fear and terror into blacks, thereby reinforcing white domination. The Jim Crow hierarchy could not work without violence being used against those on the bottom rung. Lynching represented a way of using fear and terror to check 'dangerous' tendencies in a black community considered to be ineffectively regimented or supervised. As such it constituted a confession that the regular institutions of a segregated society provided an inadequate measure of day-to-day control.
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