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Blacks And Whites: Separate And Unequal A Comparison Of The South African Apartheid System And America's Jim Crow Laws

1369 words - 5 pages

Around 1914 in the United States, race relations hit arguably an all-time low in the history of civilization on the North American continent. Every Southern state had passed laws that created two separate societies; one black, the other white. Blacks and whites could not ride together in the same railroad cars, sit in the same waiting rooms, use the same washrooms, eat in the same restaurants, or sit in the same theaters. Blacks were denied access to parks, beaches, and picnic areas; they were barred from many hospitals. Segregation as a social system was begun in the North prior to the Civil War, but, during the last two decades of the nineteenth century, Southern states made it a legal requirement. What had been maintained by custom was to be strengthened by law. The "separate but equal" ideology plagued the social structure of the United States.The popular belief that this country belonged to the white man was nothing new though. From the moment Christopher Columbus stepped foot on this "New World" in 1492, this assumption was self-evident through the ensuing mistreatment and domination of the Native Americans by white settlers. Unfortunately, this belief only escalated over the years. Abraham Lincoln's success in the Civil War and the end of slavery sparked a new era for the Black race in America. The "Black Codes" passed following the Civil War gave Blacks equal rights in the United States. But even though they were guaranteed their freedom from slavery, the law segregated them from Whites. African Americans still stared an evil racial monster in the face called the Jim Crow Laws. These laws steamrolled any hope for dialogue of race relations with its notorious maxim "separate but equal." Much needed change finally occurred after the landmark Supreme Court case Brown v. Kansas Board of Education struck down segregation in public schools, which in turn fueled the Civil Rights Movement. These laws that plagued the United States closely mirror another segregation system, the Apartheid system, highlighted in class by the movies Cry of the Beloved by Alan Paton and Gandhi.To gather a greater understanding of the dark history of the Jim Crow laws, one must turn their attention to the racial-driven South. A quarter of a century after the Thirteenth through Fifteenth Amendments were ratified to the Constitution, the railroad industry initiated a cascade of events that furthered the "separate but equal" sentiment. To begin, in 1890 Louisiana passed a statue that declared blacks would be forced to sit on separate railroad cars from whites. Shortly after, a number of cities and states followed by issuing similar laws. In 1896, the Supreme Court furthered African American frustrations through their decision in the Plessy v. Ferguson case. The Supreme Court ruled that "Separate but equal accommodations on Louisiana's railroads was constitutional" (Olson), and that decision only stimulated aggressions between races.Before long, the Jim Crow Laws infringed...

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