The Stain Of The Jim Crow Laws

1003 words - 4 pages

In the years 1877 and 1960, and all those between, the United States practiced widespread racial discrimination in the form of the Jim Crow laws (Pilgrim). Under these laws, legalized further by the court case Plessy v. Ferguson, black citizens were made second class in all forms of social and intellectual life. Members of the black community were segregated to separate and unequal establishments, suppressed by both the legal system as well as their white neighbors (“Examples of Jim Crow Laws”). The use of these laws were to support white supremacy and to ensure the “purity” of the American people (Pilgrim).
“Separate but Equal” was a term heavily used and more accepted after the case of Plessy v. Ferguson (Pilgrim). Homer Plessy of Louisiana attempted to sit in the designated “white” coach of a train, leading to his jailing and eventual court case. This was despite the fact Plessy was seven-eighths white, as even his one-eighth African American heritage labeled him as a colored citizen. He was found guilty in his first case and it was taken to the Supreme Court of Louisiana. Again, the ruling was against Plessy which found him guilty for refusing to sit in his “proper” car (Cozzens). This fueled the efforts located mainly in the Southern and border states to segregate black Americans. The ruling was decided with a majority of seven votes, Justice John Harlan being one of the only to vote against. He was later quoted in saying that “Our Constitution is color-blind” and agreed that “In respect of civil rights, all citizens are equal”. Harlan could clearly see the magnitude such a decision would make through the country, as this would “stimulate aggressions” (Cozzens).
Thanks to the ruling, widespread separation occurred between blacks and whites. Different facilities existed for colored citizens, ranging from prisons to libraries to mental hospitals. Anywhere one went, they would find blacks unwelcome where whites were. In restaurants that served both races, whites had to be served first and blacks needed to be placed in a different location within the building (“Examples of Jim Crow Laws”). Children of color were forced into separate and often subpar schools and even the water fountains had a racial requirement. Not only were businesses and other practices forcing these racist rules on America, but the other members of the community were accepting of these ways. Several Christian higher officials believed that blacks were destined to be servants all their life and that whites were the supreme race. African American males were among the most discriminated against. A black male risked public lynching whenever he did anything regarding a white woman. Men could not do anything that could be perceived as a sexual advance towards a white woman. This included but was not limited to offering a hand to shake, lighting a cigarette for her, commenting on her appearance or looking at her in a suggestive manner. These were ultimately to discourage and...

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