Jim Crow Laws (noun): Legislation enacted in southern states after emancipation to restrict Black rights and enforce segregation.
Following the Civil War, many white southerners were not happy with the end of slavery. In order to keep the peace, a series of new laws were created, commonly known as the Jim Crow Laws. These laws worked well for the south for a time, but eventually the African Americans that it restricted acted out against them.
Rosa Parks, after having attended a school in Tennessee for labor activism and civil rights, was inspired to challenge the Jim Crow system, which had limited her all throughout her life. On December 1, 1955, Parks refused to move seats on a segregated bus. This action inspired E.D. Nixon, head of the NAACP, not only to challenge the Montgomery bus law, but “to bring the national spotlight upon Jim Crow, believing -accurately, as events proved- that a system that had grown up in the regional shadows of Southern life couldn’t long survive the glare of national television cameras” (H.W. Brands, American Dreams, 87). Nixon started a boycott of the bus system, putting Martin Luther King Jr. to lead. The APUSH theme of “Peopling” fits with Rosa Parks’ actions and the following boycott because it shows how people throughout America had the ability to act and change the country over time. This boycott and other events regarding the rights of African Americans began unfolding as Nixon had suspected. In the novel American Dreams, H.W. Brands details, “The city refused to relent, and the impasse stretched into the spring and then summer of 1956. Only after the Supreme Court intervened, ruling in November that the Montgomery ordinance violated the equal protection clause of the Fourteenth Amendment, were King and the boycotters able to declare victory. The city acted vindictively petty in defeat, fining King $85 for violating a special anti-boycott measure. On principle he refused to pay and kept the boycott going. The city backed down, and in December 1956, more than a year after it began, the Montgomery boycott ended" (88).
Another racial conflict happened February 1960 in North Carolina. A few college students from an all-black school walked into Woolworth’s department store and sat at the lunch counter that was reserved for whites only. The employees were bewildered by this and did not know how to react. Finally the manager closed the store in an attempt to resolve the issue. However, the conflict carried over to the next day and many days that followed as blacks gathered to silently protest, and all throughout the South dozens of “sit-ins” occurred. This resulted in much violence, as white crowds gathered around the protestors and disrespected them by shouting and even physically assaulting. Due to all of the chaos, the movement received national attention regarding the Jim Crow system, although it did not solve all of the problems.
This movement occurred in the South.
Many other conflicts and movements, such as Sweatt v. Painter and CORE’s sponsored “Freedom Ride” (when blacks tested Supreme Court’s ban of segregating the interstate buses and trains by riding them), took place in the South. Why is it that a majority of the African American-related conflicts happened in the South and not often in the North? One key point is that slavery was majorly an issue for the South compared to the North. The Americans in the South have always had a different perspective on African Americans, so when laws got changed, it took a longer time to adjust.
Even after the Civil Rights Movement, blacks weren’t always seen equally. Laws were changed and restrictions lifted, but people were still racist towards other ethnicities, and still are today. With all that this country has been through, all the voices spoken out and sacrifices made, what will it take for Americans to treat each and every citizen equally?