Jim Crow Laws

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Jim Crow Laws
Tracey C Henry

July 17, 2011

Jim Crow Laws
The animosity left behind by the Civil War between southern whites and African Americans led to a number of legal battles. The passage of the Fourteenth Amendment and the Civil Rights Act of 1866, while effective in theory, only served to create a larger divide between races. In 1896, the case of Plessy v. Ferguson paved the way for further legal segregation and the deluge of state and local laws that made clear the fact that African Americans, while technically free citizens, were second class human beings. Jim Crow laws were born and maintained a level of discrimination that was severely damaging to the African American community and filled a reprehensible chapter in American history. Prior to 1896, African Americans were given social equality in all public places. Plessy v. Ferguson determined that hotels and railroads were privately owned, and therefore not public places. The Louisiana court that heard the case established that privately owned locations and services were, in fact, able to segregate the races so long as they provided an equal substitution for African Americans and other citizens of color. In one appeal, Supreme Court Justice William B. Brown set the precedence for the onslaught of the Jim Crow laws that followed in copious amounts and removed a significant freedom from freed slaves. No longer could they enter a hotel through the front door or sit in a railroad car with their white counterparts. Jim Crow laws encompassed an unending array of daily indignities for African Americans. In Alabama, as well as many other states, African Americans were segregated on buses, on railroads, in restaurants, and even in pool and billiard rooms. African Americans were not permitted to marry or cohabitate with white people under any circumstances. In Florida, cohabitation could be punished by imprisonment and fines of up to $500, which was significant at that time. The laws involved a myriad of...
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