To What Extent Were the Jim Crow Laws Main Problems for Black Americans in the 1920s and 1930s.

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To what extent were the Jim Crow Laws the main problem facing black Americans in the 1920s and 1930s?

When the Civil War ended in 1865, Abraham Lincoln proclaimed all men in America – black or white – equal. However, throughout the rest of the nineteenth and much of the twentieth century African-Americans were widely discriminated especially in the Southern states of the country. They faced serious social, economic and political problems and were regarded by most people as the inferior race. Although America was referred to by its president Woodrow Wilson as the “great melting pot” in 1915 and although it was supposed to be a country where “all men are created equal” as stated in the Constitution; this certainly was not the case. American society was divided by strict racial hierarchy with the White Anglo-Saxon Protestants (WASP) on the very top, other European immigrants in the middle and with blacks descending mainly from slaves on the very bottom. Historians argue why this was and why the desires of some leaders to create a homologous nation really stayed only desires. Some argue that the ethnic minorities faced discrimination in everyday life because it had legal basis in the so called “Jim Crow” laws, which promoted the “separate but equal” decision of the Supreme Court from 1896. These laws were introduced in the South to support the separation of the races and basically made the discrimination of Blacks legal. However, others argue that the reason for discrimination lay deeper in the American history and that it rooted from the established racial hierarchy. There were many half-secret organisations that fought for the white supremacy and some historians, such as David M. Chalmers argue that it was the existences of such groups that caused the discrimination against blacks. Some historians also argue that the federal apathy was another important obstacle blacks had to face. This was because of the laissez-faire policy and also because of personal racist views held by the presidents of the era, who wanted (as the rest of American people) to keep power in the hands of the WASP establishment. Some other historians would argue that it was the impact of World War One that deepened the racial problems and others believe that blacks had to deal with discrimination because of the fear of the whites that their social and economic status were under threat. This essay will examine all those possible reasons why black people were treated with hostility in the interwar period and will prove that while the Jim Crow laws were important in justifying this approach; it was in fact the deep-rooted racism that caused all the other factors and led to the savage discrimination of African-Americans.

Some historians, such as John A. Kerr argue that the Jim Crow laws were the main cause of the discrimination present in American states. The decision of the Supreme Court in 1896 led to proliferation of these laws throughout the South as Homer Plessy lost his case and the Court found that the laws were not breaking the US Constitution. The Court decided to support the popular “Separate but Equal” policy, which meant that as long as equal facilities were provided, the segregation of the races wasn´t unconstitutional. Seven of the eight justices at the trial favoured this decision and stated that the 14th Amendment to the US constitution was not “intended to abolish distinctions based upon colour” and that separation of those does not “necessarily imply the inferiority of either race to the other.” This decision disappointed black people as they knew that it was very unlikely that the states would provide them with equal facilities. As a result of this case states could impose legal punishments on people consorting with members of another race. The most common examples of Jim Crow laws were forbidding intermarriage and ordering business owners and public institutions (schools, offices) to keep their black and white clientele...
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