Jim Crow


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The Political Uncle Tommers (Puck 1906)

Simon Legree Tilman asking "Don't I own you, body and soul, you black dog?"

      Immediately after the Civil War African Americans began creating their own institutions, separate from white control. Families, churches, and schools quickly became the pillars of black society. Racial segregation just as quickly became the general rule of life, but it was not the law. Still some racial intermingling did occur, usually only among members of the same sex, and offered a glimmer of hope for an integrated society.

    With railroad expansion came the blurring of barriers; as people traveled into new areas in the South, they could not know every set of local customs. This inevitably led to confrontations, usually as middle-class African Americans purchased first class tickets and then had the audacity to try to use them. Many African Americans had to sue to get their tickets, and the implied contracts they represented, honored. These lawsuits culminated in 1896 with the Plessy vs. Ferguson decision, establishing the legality of the "separate but equal doctrine."

    After that decision, customary segregation quickly became codified segregation all across the South as Southern states began filling their law books with even more segregation laws.