Jim Crow By Will MacGrath

Poll Taxes

Poll taxes were payments that were required to register to vote during Jim Crow. The payment to register to vote was $1.50 to $1.75 which was a lot of money at the time. All people were required to pay, unless they were able to get around it with the Grandfather Clause. This means that most white men were able to get around paying the tax. The tax targets poor people, and in this time the black community was very poor. This tax discouraged blacks from attempting to vote.

The Grandfather Clause

The Grandfather Clause was created in 1898 by the state of Louisiana. It was created as a way for white people to bypass some of the tests and fees that black people have to face. The conditions for this was that if your grandfather was able to vote before 1867. The catch to this was that no blacks were able to vote in 1867. This means that blacks were not able to take the easiest way to vote.

Literacy Tests

Literacy tests were designed for failure. Literacy tests were primarily given to blacks, who were not given a good education, if they were educated at all. Black people during this time were put into segregated schools that were not as good as white schools. For black people who were lucky enough to get an education, they still would have had an extremely hard time passing the test. The questions on the tests were designed to be very hard, if not impossible. The questions were worded weirdly, asked impossible questions, and in general were not passable. Even if you managed to pass a judge might decide that they didn't do well enough and they wouldn't let them pass.

Share Cropping

Share cropping was a system that was used in the Jim Crow era as a way for newly freed slaves to work. Coming out of the Civil War many black were jobless but skilled in agriculture from their time as slaves. The solution to this was share cropping. It was a system in which land owners would rent land to poor families for a price. The price was usually one third to one half of the crops grown in that month.


In small rural towns blacks were much more of an economic threat to white people. This competition between races caused hatred, especially from white people. These whites in small towns hated when black people started to make economic gains. This hatred and competition caused there to be more lynchings in these areas. These lynchings were caused because of the racism and hatred between the white race and the black race.

Vagrancy Laws

Vagrancy laws were designed to keep blacks in their place and for them to not advance economically. The laws made it illegal for a black to not have a job. This made it extremely difficult for the people who already had jobs to get higher paying jobs. This made sure that blacks were not able to compete with whites economically. The laws also made the blacks who were without jobs have a much harder time finding jobs out of the fear of being arrested.


The schools in the Jim Crow era were racially segregated. The schools were not equal, with the white schools being much better than the black school. The black schools got the hand downs from the white schools, like the books that they used. The schools that were dedicated to blacks had leaky roofs, broken glass, and were very dirty. These schools were in towns that were able to afford black schools. In towns that could only afford one school they only built the white school. The black teachers weren't paid as much, and didn't get as much training.


Lynchings were the killings of black people, usually by a group of white me for a crime that they believed the black man committed. The victims of these lynchings were taken by mobs and hung, shot, or even worse. The members of these mobs were rarely convicted of crimes, even if there is enough evidence to convict them. The reason for them trying to try and justify what they were doing was that it was it has a punishment for crimes. About one third of all of the lynch victims were falsely accused of their crimes which means that over one thousand innocent people were killed.

Minstrel Shows

Minstrel Shows were entertainment sort of like a modern day circus or play, but usually had racist stereotypes in them. There were usually actors in blackface, which were white people wearing black face paint. The people wearing the blackface usually made the black people out to be stupid or lazy. For many of the people watching they didn't interact with black people much, so most of their ideas of black people came from these shows.

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