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Jim Crow and Segregation in the South. As Reconstruction ended, African American dreams of equality and justice faded. By the 1880s, racism and segregation took a strong hold in Southern states (Northern states also harbored discrimination, but not as pronounced as in the South).

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Jim Crow and Segregation in the South

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As Reconstruction ended, African American dreams of

  • equality and justice faded.
  • By the 1880s, racism and segregation took a strong hold in
  • Southern states
  • (Northern states also harbored discrimination, but not as
  • pronounced as in the South)

Voting Restrictions

Southern States passed laws to get around the

15th Amendment

(15th Amendment: states could not deny an individual

the right to vote because of race, color, or previous



Poll Tax: a fee that people had to pay before they could vote.

Many African Americans could not pay the fee, thus they could not vote.

(this also kept poor whites from voting)


Literacy Tests: people who wanted to vote had

to read difficult parts of the State or U.S. Constitution and

explain it

Many African Americans

had little education and

could not read the


thus they could not vote


Grandfather Clause: laws which allowed individuals who

did not pass the literacy test to vote if their father or grandfather had voted before Reconstruction

African Americans could not vote until 1867 (after Reconstruction),so these laws excluded African Americans


Poll tax, literacy tests, and grandfather clauses were

enacted as early as 1870, but became widespread after 1889.

By 1890, segregation was a prominent feature of life in the South


The term Jim Crow originated in a song performed by Daddy Rice, a white minstrel show entertainer in the 1830s. Rice covered his face with charcoal paste or burnt cork to resemble a black man, and then sang and danced a routine in caricature of a silly black person. By the 1850s, this Jim Crow character, one of several stereotypical images of black inferiority in the nation's popular culture, was a standard act in the minstrel shows of the day. How it became a term synonymous with the brutal segregation and disfranchisement of African Americans in the late nineteenth-century is unclear. What is clear, however, is that by 1900, the term was generally identified with those racist laws and actions that deprived African Americans of their civil rights by defining blacks as inferior to whites, as members of a caste of subordinate people.



Discrimination against African-Americans continued in the South

after reconstruction

Racial Segregation

  • Based on race
  • Directed primarily against African-Americans, but other groups
  • were also kept segregated
  • American Indians were not considered citizens until 1924

“Jim Crow” Laws:

  • “Jim Crow” laws institutionalized a system of legal segregation
  • Passed to discriminate against African-Americans
  • Made discrimination practices legal in many communities and states
  • Were characterized by
  • unequal opportunities in
  • housing, work, education,
  • andgovernment

“It shall be unlawful for a negro and white person to play together or in company with each other in any game of cards or dice, dominoes or checkers.”—Birmingham, Alabama, 1930


“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


“All railroads carrying passengers in the state (other than street railroads) shall provide equal but separate accommodations for the white and colored races, by providing two or more passenger cars for each passenger train, or by dividing the cars by a partition, so as to secure separate accommodations.”—Tennessee, 1891


“The Corporate Commission is hereby vested with power to require telephone companies in the State of Oklahoma to maintain separate booths for white and colored patrons when there is a demand for such separate booths.”—Oklahoma, 1915


Plessy vs. Ferguson

  • In 1892, Homer Plessy, who was 7/8 white, purposely challenged the segregation
  • laws by sitting in a white’s only train car in Louisiana
  • When he announced that he was considered African-American because
  • he was 1/8 African-American, the train officials tried to move him to a
  • “colored only” train car.
  • Upon his refusal, he was arrested.

Ferguson was the judge in the Louisiana case who said Plessy was guilty of violating the “Separate Car Law”


Why does this matter



This led to a landmark Supreme Court decision:

Plessy vs. Ferguson (1896)

  • Supreme Court of the United States stated that facilities and services
  • could be separate as long as they were equal.
  • “Separate, but equal” clause legally allowed segregation
  • (not overturned until 1950s)

Booker T. Washington was born a slave

    • He knew the South’s attitude towards former slaves.
    • He believed that African Americans could gain equal
    • rights by being economically independent.
    • (through vocational education)
      • In other words, African Americans should make a
      • living for themselves by learning a trade such as
      • carpentry, masonry, sewing, etc. so they could buy
      • homes, food, and provide for their families
  • He accepted segregation as African Americans worked
  • their way toward equality
  • He was called the Great Accommodator (accepting white
  • attitudes)
African-American civic leader who believed in immediate full political, civil, and social rights for African-Americans.

W.E.B. DuBois


W.E.B.Dubois was born in Massachusetts after the civil war

  • (he was never a slave)
    • W.E.B was well educated. He went to school with
    • white children
    • He was disgusted by segregation and wanted full
    • political, civil, and social rights for African American
    • (without waiting for it)
    • He opposed Booker T. Washington’s philosophy of
    • accommodation