Conditions in 1912


The Jim Crow laws still dominated race relations in the South in 1912. In the following essay from 1912 a columnist for the African-American paper The Indianapolis Recorder describes the practice and principles behind Jim Crow laws.


How the Democratic Legislators of the South Endeavor to Degrade and Humiliate the Afro-American.

In their efforts to degrade and humiliate the race the Democratic legislators of every southern state have provided a system of jimcrow cars for Afro-Americans.

The Iaws say that the accommodations "shall be equal, but separate." As a matter of fact, they are seldom equal and usually very inferior, especially on the smaller lines. where wornout cars. which are generally In a filthy condition, are for Afro-Americans.

On the larger roads better cars are used, but the jimcrow car is generally placed next to the locomotive. where the occupants get the full benefit of the dust and smoke and are in a dangerous position In case of accident.

Several states have enacted laws forbidding sleeping car companies to sell berths to Afro-Americans.

These laws were not passed for the reason that southern Democrats are anxious to avoid close proximity to Afro-Americans, for servants are allowed under the law to ride In the same car with the whites. The Idea, which is to humiliate the race, is clearly expressed by H. D. Wilson. a prominent Louisiana Democrat, greatly Interested in jimcrow legislation. who said: "It is not only the desire to separate the whites and blacks on the railroad for the comfort it will provide, but also-for the moral effect. The separation of the races is one of benefit, but the demonstration of the superiority of the white man over the Negro is a greater thing. There is nothing which shows it more conclusively than the compelling of Negroes to ride in cars marked for their especial use."


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