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Context of Roll of Thunder Hear My Cry : Pre-Civil Rights American South. English 305 Dr. Roggenkamp. Pre-Civil Rights South. Racial segregation “Jim Crow”—a pernicious, negative stereotype used to describe a system of government-sanctioned racial oppression and segregation in the U.S.

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Context of roll of thunder hear my cry pre civil rights american south l.jpg

Context of Roll of Thunder Hear My Cry: Pre-Civil Rights American South

English 305

Dr. Roggenkamp


Pre civil rights south l.jpg
Pre-Civil Rights South

  • Racial segregation

  • “Jim Crow”—a pernicious, negative stereotype used to describe a system of government-sanctioned racial oppression and segregation in the U.S.

  • Label used from late nineteenth-century through first half of twentieth century

  • Label taken from popular nineteenth-century minstrel song


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Jim Crow images, mid nineteenth century


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Historical Timeline: Legalizing Segregation

  • 1863—Emancipation Proclamation

  • Abraham Lincoln, initially opposed: “My paramount object is to save the Union, and not either to save or destroy slavery.”

  • But convinced of necessity for emancipation by 1863

  • 1865—Civil War ends

  • Confiscated southern lands sold to northern investors and “carpetbaggers”

  • Land granted to freed slaves


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Historical Timeline: Legalizing Segregation

  • 1865-1877—Reconstruction of the South

  • Set up to assist southern blacks and whites in transition from slave culture to non-slave culture

  • Introduce system of free labor, oversee 3,000 schools for former slaves, settle race-based disputes, enforce contracts between white landowners and usually black labor forces, and secure justice for former slaves in state courts

  • Federal government sets conditions whereby southern states can apply for entry back into Union

  • At least 10% of voting population must take oath of allegiance to Union (lenient!)

  • Lincoln assassinated, April 1865


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Historical Timeline: Legalizing Segregation

  • 1865-1877—Reconstruction of the South, continued

  • Andrew Johnson: favors white supremacy in south, supports political leaders who aided Confederacy

  • Johnson wants to leave future of African Americans in south in hands of whites

  • Movement to restore slavery “in substance if not in name”

  • 1865—Ku Klux Klan first organized

    • Tennessee “social club” organized by 6 vets

    • Grows quickly—terrorist organization across south


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Historical Timeline: Legalizing Segregation

  • 1868—14th Amendment to U.S. Constitution: Guarantee citizenship, protect civil liberties

  • 13th Amendment had abolished slavery

  • 1870-1871—Enforcement Acts

  • Congress passes criminal codes to protect rights to vote, hold office, serve of juries

  • KKK rises further in response


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Historical Timeline: Legalizing Segregation

  • 1875—First Civil Rights Act

  • Sought to guarantee freedom of access—“full and equal enjoyment” of public facilities

  • 1877—Reconstruction Ends

  • Removal of federal troops from south

  • 1883—Civil Rights Act of 1875 declared unconstitutional

  • Clear way for segregation


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Historical Timeline: Legalizing Segregation

  • 1880s-1920s—Rising terrorism

  • Activities of KKK grow annually

  • Rising lynching rate

  • Wiping out civil rights of African Americans


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Historical Timeline: Legalizing Segregation

  • 1896—Supreme Court ruling on Plessy v. Ferguson

  • 1892 Homer Plessy jailed for sitting in “white” railroad car in LA

  • Supreme Court upholds constitutionality of law

  • Sets precedent of “separate but “equal”

  • A fiction: rarely equal, always separate


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1931—Scottsboro Case

Nine black youths falsely charged with raping two white women in Alabama

No evidence, but all-white jury convicts all nine

All but youngest (age 12) sentenced to death

Last pardon not granted until 1976

“This case, more than any other event in the South during the 1930s, revealed the barbarous treatment of blacks” by whites.

Historical Timeline: Legalizing Segregation


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Resources

  • http://www.pbs.org/wnet/jimcrow/

  • http://www.law.umkc.edu/faculty/projects/FTrials/scottsboro/SB_imag.html


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