In the 20th century, it was a common belief among the White Americans that having black Americans in their neighborhood would lead to decline of property values. The United States came up with a policy to separate the country by having different facilities for the white Americans and the black Americans. These facilities included the schools, residential area, health facilities and recreational facilities. Jim Crow laws which governed both the state and local individuals were passed between 1876 and 1965. The laws advocated for racial separation in all public amenities. The laws further proposed separate but equal status of the facilities. However, equality was not observed. The African Americans ended up getting substandard facilities as compared to the white Americans. Some of the public facilities which were to be segregated as per the Jim Crow laws were public learning institutions, public places, guestrooms, restaurants and public transportation. The United States military force was also subjected to the issue of segregation. Segregation of public schools was considered to be unconstitutional by the high court of the United States in 1954. In 1964 other Jim Crow laws were ruled out by the Civil Rights Acts of 1964 together with the Voting Rights Act of 1965. The essay explores the contributions of Jim Crow laws in the American history (Barnes 12).
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The phrase Jim Crow is believed to have come from the song ‘Jump Jim Crow’ a song and dance popularized by a white actor Thomas D. Rice which surfaced in 1830s and was used to satirize the black Americans. Thanks to this actor, black people were regarded as stupid at mostly, lazy by their white counterparts, who also viewed them as lesser beings.
This flourished in the United States and abroad afterwards mocking the black people and depicting them as comical, uneducated and irrational. It resulted to shows which turned quite enthusiastic up until the 1870s when the Jim Crow laws were surfacing. The damaging images in these shows were carried on into movies and motion pictures where white actors dressed in blackface and white men played black ones in mock of black Americans (Simkin 1).
Jim Crow laws were geared toward the separation of black Americans from the white Americans population. By 1880, black Americans were being elected into local offices. Later democrats were established which restricted the process of voters registration and elections. The restriction led to a decrease in the number of poor white Americans and African Americans who participated in the election process. Beginning from 1890 to 1910 a new constitution which led to total segregation of many blacks and thousands of poor whites was passed. Under this constitution, African Americans, along with their white counterparts, did not have voting rights. In addition, they could not also obtain employment as members of the jury. The constitution denied the poor Whites and Africans Americans a chance to vote and opportunities to serve in the juries and other local offices. Their interests were overlooked and their voices could not influence the state government any more. Though Jim Crow laws advocated for separate facilities of equal status, the poor white and blacks’ facilities were inferior. All public schools were founded by the reconstruction legislature, but the ones of the African Americans were constantly underfunded. Attempts to reduce election irregularities were biased on the black and white voters who were not learned. While Jim Crow laws did not hinder African Americans from participating in sports, church and other recreational activities, the magnitude of the segregation led to total separation and the blacks could not take part I these activities(Bartley 3)
Attempts to break the law
The Civil Right Acts of 1875 by Charles Summer and Benjamin F. Butler passed an assurance that all people regardless of the color, race, or former state of servitude deserved equal opportunities in public facilities. However, the Act was considered to be unconstitutional by the Supreme Court. The Supreme Court argued that the congress did not have powers over company or private persons. Since the southern democrats formed the majority in the government, formation of other civil rights was totally opposed. In 1890 a law demanding different accommodation for black and white was passed by Louisiana. At this point attempts to break the laws of Jim Crow became futile. Discrimination among the colored and the black intensified, the colored were allowed to ride with the white but the blacks were not. A group of black and colored citizen opposed the law by even arguing about it in the supreme court of the United States in vain. The court declared that it was constitutional to have separate facilities but of the same standards (Bartley 34).
Despite the Jim Crow’s legal provisions that the facilities of the black and the white be separate but equal, the non-whites were given substandard facilities. The way the non-whites were treated by the congress was different from the white. The government was lenient and more just to the white as opposed to the non white. Many African –American institution of learning were allocated less funds per students than white schools. A practical example was in Texas where a public law school was established for the white with no law school for the African American. Black employees were offered limited chances in some set of jobs; they were mostly deployed in unskilled positions. For example, industries like Ford Motors hired a large number of African American whereas other industries like Detroit completely excluded the black Americans workers. Labor unions had rules which barred membership by African American employees (Maloney 3).
The legal provision of Jim Crow allowed African Americans and Whites to worship together. However, apart from segregation being considered constitutional it had become like the tradition of the state. Blacks preferred to have their own separate church from the whites; they conducted their worship in a culturally distinct manner. The attitude of segregation discouraged African American from worshipping together with the whites. Despite the reduced magnitude of segregation and acceptance of integrated worship, African American churches still cling on to their common worship. Their churches have grown to be centers of communities, prisons, schools and for other social welfare activities. This led to development of a strong organization of political, social and spiritual leadership in the time of civil right movements (Alkalimat 6).
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Health care facilities for the white were well equipped, adequate number of beds whereas health facilities serving the African American were poorly equipped and had less bed capacity. Nursing homes for the African American were funded from Medicaid while white’s nursing homes were adequately funded by the state government. Poor hygienic conditions, maintenance and lighting in health facilities serving the African American were more common than in American health facilities (Howard, Eckert, Kevin, Sloane and Zimmerman 5). In the transport system the railways used by the African American were in a deplorable state as opposed to used by the white. The water fountains for the blacks were poorly maintained, recreational places and hotels were inferior to those meant for the white. Most Americans settled in the urban areas whereas African Americans were mostly found in the suburbs. Segregation limited the African American physically, economically and socially.
Black American were not only denied the enjoyment of better services but also suffered from humiliation and degradation brought about by segregation. The long term effects of segregation persist up to date. Some African American still live where they lived before, they lack good economic and educational opportunities. After reconstruction, the Supreme Court argued that the constitution supported social segregation but prohibited civil and political discrimination. However, this was not the case as the African Americans were denied the chance to vote during state election. Initially the African Americans were allowed to hold position in local offices but by this time they were denied the right. Apart from the racial segregation gender segregation also existed. Women were allowed only to work in certain fields, they were considered as home maker who were not supposed to hold any position of a white collar job (King 21).
Jim Crow laws of separate but equal facilities and services for the whites and black Americans were not ideal. African American continued to suffer from inequality of public facilities and services offered by the congress. Separate facilities can not be the same, the state government offered better services to Americans than to African Americans. African lacked good social amenities, went to poor schools and were denied their civil rights like voting during state elections. They were also denied chances to serve in some government jobs.
Alkalimat, Abdul. Religion and the Black Church. Introduction to Afro-during the 1950s Louisiana State University Press,1969. Print.
American Studies. Chicago: Twenty-first Century Books and Publications. 2002. Web.
Barnes, Catherine A. Journey from Jim Crow: The Desegregation of Southern Transit. Columbia University Press, 1983.
Bartley, Numan V. The Rise of Massive Resistance: Race and Politics in the South during the 1950s Louisiana State University Press.1969. Print.
Howard, Daniel., Eckert, Kevin., Sloane., and Zimmerman, Sheryl. Distribution of African Americans in Residential Care/Assisted Living and Nursing Homes: More Evidence of Racial Disparity? 2002. Web.
King, D. Separate and Unequal: Black Americans and the U.S. Federal Government. Oxford: Claredon Press,1995. Print.
Maloney, Thomas. African American in the twenth century. 2002. Web.
Simkin, John. “Jim Crow Laws.” Spartacus educational. 1997. Web.