Jim Crow Laws

The name Jim Crow originates from a stock vaudevillian character performed by a white man in black-face. Jim Crow Laws were laws that discriminated against African Americans in public places after the ratification of the fourteenth amendment. In the 1873 Slaughterhouse Cases, just 5 years after the Fourteenth Amendment was ratified, the Supreme Court effectively opened the door for the legality of Jim Crow laws when they ruled that the Fourteenth Amendment only applied to federal government actions; not state laws. This allowed states to begin passing laws segregating public places, such as: railroad cars, schools, hospitals, parks, pools, beaches, buses, and even drinking fountains.

African American groups began to fight these laws immediately, through cases like Plessy v Ferguson, but the Supreme Court upheld the Jim Crow laws leading to almost a century of oppression and segregation.

It wasn’t until the historic Brown v Board case in 1954 that the Supreme Court struck down the platform holding up Jim Crow laws, and those states segregating their public facilities had to integrate.

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