Man drinking at a water cooler reserved for "Colored," Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, 1939.
Source: Russell Lee, July 1939, Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division,Washington, DC.
After the Thirteenth Amendment abolished slavery in America, racial discrimination became regulated by the Jim Crow laws, which mandated strict segregation of the races.
The end ofReconstruction produced a political and social climate of fear and intimidation for every black person in the South. Politically, the federal government abandoned any commitment to biracial democracy. In1883, the Supreme Court declared the Civil Rights Act of 1876 unconstitutional. The principle of “separate but equal,” America’s legal justification for domestic apartheid, was ordained by theSupreme Court in the Plessy v. Ferguson decision of 1896. Systematically, the gains made towards a more equal society during Reconstruction were dismantled and replaced by a new system of injustice. The JimCrow system of racial exploitation was, like slavery, both a caste/social order for regimenting cultural and political relations, and an economic structure that facilitated the super-exploitation ofblack’s labor power.
The key measures of Jim Crow laws concerning the separation of blacks in public places:
- Schools, churches and hospitals for blacks should be separated
- In transport, only afew seats at the rear are accessible to black people
- The promotion of equal rights is a misdemeanor punishable by jail.
- The administration of public services is reserved to white people
- Anymarriage between a white person and a black person is prohibited.
- A black person can’t adopt, or have under his tutelage a white child, even if the parents of the latter have chosen that.
-Black and white families can’t live in the same building. The owner who rents an apartment to a black person in a building where white people are living is liable to imprisonment.
During 88 years,...