Michael J. Klarman On The Era Of The Jim Crow Laws To Civil Rights Movememt

1319 words - 6 pages

Michael J. Klarman highlights the history of African Americans’ struggle for racial equality from the era of Jim Crow to the Civil Rights Movement. The four main issues that Klarman associates to the beginning of African American struggles after the Civil War, in what is marked as the Plessy Era, include the racial segregation of public and private spheres within America and was upheld by the statute of separate but equal which is explained by the 1896 Supreme Court case of Plessy v. Ferguson. This court case stemmed from segregated seating in railway cars. This public segregation was created by a Louisiana law that became a precursor to separate but equal. The court found Plessy’s argument invalid and that the Louisiana law did not breach the 14th Amendment, considering blacks were still allowed passage on the train. Plessy v. Ferguson stood as one of key proponents to the anti-equality laws that African American’s suffered and persevered thorough until the court decision was overruled in the 1954 Supreme Court case of Brown v. Board of Education.
The second issue brought up Klarman is the disfranchisement of blacks through the use of literacy tests, poll taxes, and grandfather clauses which allotted for whites who could not pass the literacy test or pay the poll tax since it stated that if your grandfather had the right to vote then all future generations had the ability to as well. All of these efforts were created to keep blacks from voting in the South for pro-equality legislation in the state and federal governments.
The goal for Southern whites was to relinquish what rights blacks had gained from the 13th, 14th, and 15th Amendments. The third issue is the exclusion of blacks from participating in juries in a court of law which caused misrepresentation and a threat to the law innocent till proven guilty. This became the main focus in the Scottsboro Trials in 1931 as de facto segregation was put to the test. Finally the fourth issue posed by Klarman is exemplified by the 1899 Supreme Court case of Cumming v. Richmond County Board of Education which challenged the 14th Amendment and allowed for segregated and unequal education for African Americans.
During the Antebellum and Civil War eras Republicans were not only seen as being politically radical for promoting the abolishment of slavery, but for also promoting pro-equality legislation for blacks. However as time passed and Republicans took control of Congress in 1894 and won a large presidential victories. Unfortunately Republicans did not take this opportunity to expand the rights of African Americans. Instead, Republicans’ support of African Americans dwindled not just because of the Republicans political victories, but also due to their failures in creating a Southern wing. The majority of the support Republicans could muster in the South were from black voters, but as noted previously disfranchisement of Blacks became a common problem and a great obstacle for African Americans to...

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