Jim Crow Laws

 Jim Crow Laws

The name for the Jim Crow Laws comes from a character in a Minstrel Show. The
Minstrel Show was one of the first forms of American entertainment, which started in 1843.
They were performed by successors of black song and dance routine actors. The first Minstrel
Show was started by a group of four men from Virginia, who all painted their faces black and
performed a small song and dance skit in a small theater in New York City. Thomas Dartmouth
Rice, a white actor, performed the Jim Crow Minstrel Show. Rice was inspired by an old black
man who sang and danced in Louisville, Kentucky (Clay, 1). The skit ended in the same chorus
as the old black mans song which was “Wheel about and turn about and do jis so, Eb’ry time I
wheel about I jump Jim Crow.” Rice’s song and dance got him from Louisville to Cincinnati to
Pittsburgh to Philadelphia and then to New York City in 1832. Finally, Rice performed
throughout Europe, going to London and Dublin, where the Irish especially liked Rice’s
performance (http://www.sims.berkely.edu/courses/is182/paint167.html).
In the north, slavery was just about non existent, so blacks could be seen free in a lot of
cities in the north. In some cities even, blacks and whites lived together without a problem so
segregation was not seen completely throughout America. Before 1890, segregation was not
seen in most of the south, which was where 80 percent of the black population lived (Massey, 17-
20).
Segregation actually started in the north, but when it moved into the south, it became
much worse (Woodward, 17). It was thought that segregation came along with slavery, but there
were more reasons, like pure racism. Cities had ghettos where all of the blacks lived in a
community, away from the whites. After slavery ended, the north did treat the blacks with more
respect, but not much more. In the north, slaves could not be separated from their families and
they could not be legally forced to work. Even though the blacks in the north were not slaves
anymore, they were still treated poorly in some cases. Towards the end of the Civil War, the
north was really showing their racism (Woodward, 21). Most hotels, motels and restaurants
would not let blacks inside, so shortly after the Civil Rights Act of 1875, the blacks tested their
rights on all sorts of public utilities. They did not, however, take advantage of these rights so
they would be assured to keep them. The south still treated blacks with disrespect. Even though
blacks could be found in most northern cities, they rarely made up much more than 30 percent of
the population of that area, so blacks were still mostly living in the south, where they were still
being treated poorly (Massey, 20).
Even after slavery ended, whites, with the Jim Crow Laws, were still separating
themselves from blacks with segregation. Jim Crow Laws were passed by many southern states
in the late nineteenth century. The laws stayed in effect from 1865-1950. The Jim Crow Laws
originated from a Minstrel Show character called Jim Crow, performed by Thomas D. Rice. The
Jim Crow movement turned out to be the biggest influence that led to the immobilization of the
American black population. The laws were basically just a technique to get around the basic
rights of blacks. It created, once again, a divisional racial system in the south. Cities now
needed new and different systems to control the blacks and whites. One part of the Jim Crow
Laws allowed the government to fully neglect the educational needs of black children, in fact, the
laws had the most effect on the education of black children. The schooling system made black
and white schools greatly unequal, and cultivated the educational needs of white children. Many
black children were left uneducated due to these laws. The condition of black schools were over
crowded in run down buildings. There were enough schools for whites so they did not have this
problem. The teachers in black schools were poorly trained and had to work with the lack of
supplies they had, but white teachers were well trained and got money for supplies from the
government. Many black families were forced to move north to have hope of their children
being educated. In the north, Jim Crow Laws were not as present and Massachusetts ended some
of the laws before the Civil War ended. The term “Jim Crow” was used so often it became an
adjective