Jim Crow./Library of Congress
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- During the 1800's when slavery was a way of life, a crippled African slave called Jim Crow supposedly would perform a song and
- The song and dance would later supposedly inspire a white comedian named T.D. "Daddy" Rice to adapt the number into a stage
act called "Jump Jim Crow" in 1828.
- Based on mockery of African-Americans, Rice blackened his face and hands, dressed in tattered clothes and impersonated a black
person in a comical way.
- The act became a hit and Rice performed all over the country. Rice became known as "Jim Crow Rice" and the Jim Crow
character became a household name.
- The later rise of minstrel shows further exploited the Jim Crow character, thereby perpetuating racist and derogatory
assumptions about blacks by satirizing them as uneducated, lazy, ignorant, superstitious, buffoonish, and musical. Thus Jim Crow
became a pejorative equivalent of a black person.
- After the American Civil War and the emancipation of all slaves by the end of 1865, the former southern slave states had to do
without their most valuable property. As a result, post-war violence became prevalent as former Confederate southerners
struggled to reestablish their prewar aristocracy.
- Overtime, as southern Democrats regained power, laws were imposed at the local and state levels that, although in compliance with the Thirteenth Amendment
(which abolished slavery), systematically and effectively suppressed the political, socioeconomic, and educational rights of Black Americans.
- These segregation laws, based on the concept of white supremacy, became knows as "Jim Crow laws" --- a system that permitted legalized discrimination and
oppression of blacks and other non-whites for nearly a century.
- Examples of Jim Crow laws (varied by state and year):
- Marriages between whites with Negroes, mulattoes, Indians, Mongolians were illegal and void.
- No African-American or racially mixed citizen would be allowed to attend any public education building aside from the one reserved for "colored persons."
- Railroads companies and their employees had the power to assign passengers to what they considered the proper seat or proper waiting room for each race.
- All race tracks and sports establishments were required to be segregated between whites and any person of a differing race.