Jim Crow Laws
There have been many laws used during the history of the United States, but one set of laws which were very unfair and solely based on the race of an individual were the Jim Crow Laws. They were laws enforced in the South of the country which were mostly put in place during the late 1800s and early 1900s. This was the period after Reconstruction following the Civil War between the North and the South.
The laws used by individual states enforced segregation between white and black (African-Americans) people in public places, which included transportation, schools, restrooms, and restaurants. The laws made it difficult for African-Americans to vote too.
The name for the laws, 'Jim Crow', came from an 1832 African-American character in a song. As the song became popular, the term began to be used as a name for African-Americans, which led to the segregation laws becoming Jim Crow laws. The laws made African-Americans' life difficult.
There were many different examples of the laws used throughout the South. In Alabama, there was a law requiring train stations to have separate waiting rooms and ticket windows, one for whites and another for 'colored' people. In Florida and other states, schools were separated by race, and in Georgia a law specifically stated, 'The officer in charge shall not bury any colored persons upon the ground set apart for the burial of white persons.'
In addition, prisoners in Mississippi were segregated by race with different places used for eating and sleeping. Jim Crow laws also tried to prevent African-Americans from voting. Since many were ex-slaves who could not read or write, some states required voters to pass reading tests to vote, or pay money called a poll tax to vote. A law that helped a white person who could not read stated that if they had a relative who could vote before the Civil War, then they could vote. This law was called a 'grandfather clause'.
Some states also had laws worse than Jim Crow laws called Black Codes. The codes nearly kept slavery in the South alive, as they made it easy for the arrest of African-Americans for just about any reason, leading them to prison, where they were permitted to be treated as slaves. (In the United States today, it is still legal in some states for all those in prison to be forced to work against their will.)
During the Great Migration, many African-Americans from the South moved to the North to get away from the difficulty and harshness of the laws, which were not in effect in the North.
The African-Americans organized and protested the segregation and the Jim Crow laws in the 1900s. However, it was not until 1954 when the Supreme Court of the United States ruled that the segregation of schools was illegal during the Brown v. Board of Education case. Other protests included boycotts of buses, which many relied on the African-American passengers, a March on Washington, and others which brought the laws to national attention.
Finally, in 1964 Jim Crow laws were made illegal with the passage of the Civil Rights Act and the Voting Rights Act of 1965. However, prior to the law's passage, in 1948, President Harry Truman had ordered the end of segregation in the armed forces.
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