During the Reconstruction era, blacks were beginning to gain their human rights. In 1868, the fourteenth amendment gave them equal protection under the law and two years later, the fifteenth amendment allowed them the right to vote. This frustrated many whites, so the Jim Crow Laws came into effect during the late nineteenth century. Reconstruction ended in 1877. Jim Crow Laws were basically racial segregation in the South. In 1892, Homer Plessy, a man who was one-eighth black, boarded an all whites train in Louisiana. In the act of civil disobedience, he refused to leave in order to provoke a case regarding the extremes of segregation. Four years later, the Supreme Court decided that “separate but equal” was fair enough and didn’t violate the fourteenth amendment at all. After this hearing, Jim Crow Laws had become even more accustomed within the South.
This principle had almost no limits; there was segregation within parks, movie theaters, cemeteries, bus stations, restaurants, prisons, hospitals, and schools. There were bogus protocols in various southern states. In South Carolina, black and white textile workers couldn’t enter through the same door, let alone work in the same environment. One would call that nothing because some unions would establish specific rules, so they didn’t have to hire African Americans. By 1914, Texas had marked six towns that Blacks couldn’t live in. There was also a curfew; blacks weren’t allowed to leave their homes after 10 p.m. Georgia had black and white parks, while Virginia has black and white phone booths. In Atlanta, people even went to the extreme by having a black and a white bible for the stand.
After all races were given the right to vote by the passing of the fifteenth amendment, numerous states searched for ways to further discriminate against black people. Poll taxes, literacy tests, and grandfather clauses came into effect in the late nineteenth century. Grandfather clauses came into effect around 1898 and made it almost impossible for African American s to vote even if the poll taxes were paid and the tests were passed. The Jim Crow Laws greatly affected African Americans, but they also impacted some Caucasians as well. Yes, there were tons of whites who hated blacks for no reason, but there were some who thought the treatment black people were receiving was inconsiderate
and inhumane. One would see many protests involving both white and blacks demanding a change, like the photo to the left, which is The March on Washington in 1963.
Those Caucasians had the idea that when slavery had come to an end, so would discrimination and inequality. It’s sad to say
but discrimination still exists today and surely won’t be going anywhere anytime soon. In the newspaper article Cayton’s Weekly, it states, “…the colored man of this country has proven himself a hundred per cent American in diverse ways, and, for the most part, makes good when given an opportunity, yet the sentiment against him standing on ail equal tooting with the white man whether in a menial position or a place of trust and responsibility, is almost as pronounced today as it was fifty years ago and this anti-black man sentiment ramifies every section of this country.” Mr. Horace Roscoe Cayton hit home when he clarified how unfairly black people have been treated regardless of their class status, or how hard they work, or how light or dark they are. The white man will always be chosen over the black one for racial reasons and it is in fact fraudulent. During an interview with four living survivors of the Jim Crow Laws, each one of them state how poorly they were treated when especially comparing them to the Caucasians. For example, Lillian Patterson from Alexandria, Virginia explains how the little black kids got “hand me downs” from the Caucasian kids. She stated, “… if you have all new books in your white school, then I should have all new books in my black school… but no you got the new edition while we got your used ones…” Whites were seen as superior and blacks were inferior, which explains how these laws came to be in the first place.
Your average person would say, “Not all heroes wear capes,” and in this case, it would sure enough be accurate. There were various heroes that made it their duty to put an end to segregation or at least attempt to. On July 2, 1964, President Lyndon B. Johnson signed the Civil Rights Act of 1964 which immediately outlawed discrimination in public places. This wouldn’t have happened if it weren’t for the cape-less heroes like Ida B. Wells; she wrote articles and campaigned against lynching. Over 150 blacks were lynched during the year of 1892. W. E. B. Dubois also had a large impact on this change; he wrote The Souls of Black Folk which brought awareness to how much blacks were struggling and how hard they were fighting. Dubois was also a leader of the NAACP, National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, which was established in 1909. In 1950, the NAACP began their campaign to prove the Supreme Court that this segregation was unconstitutional and should be abolished immediately. They declined, but soon after, rethought their decision after the NAACP proved to them that the society itself had in fact been separate, but was far from equal. In 1954, the Supreme Courts affirmed that segregation was unconstitutional following the Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka, which is in Kansas. Most states decided to accept the court’s orders and desegregate but many others, including various schools in the deep South, refused to acquire the court’s decision.
All along, whether it was northern or southern states, the motto shouldn’t have been “separate but equal.” It should’ve been “equality but equity.” When there is equality, the same things are given, same rights, same paychecks, same poll tax fares, etc. When there is equity, everyone is given basic needs depending on themselves specifically. Equality is supposed to promote fairness and rationality, but that can only work if everyone is the same, being treated the same, receiving the same education, riding the same trains, and so on. The focus should’ve been equity instead of equality. The Freedmen’s Bureau would’ve been perfect, but it had already ended in 1872.