Setting the Scene:
• After reconstruction discrimination was widespread in North. In South the color line was clearly drawn in all aspects of daily life.
• African Americans noticed their inferior status, and many newly won freedoms were disappearing
◦ Prevented from voting
◦ Subjected to repressive laws
◦ Intimidating violence
• African Americans began working together to fight discrimination & become successful
• In Southern communities, whites were concerned that African Americans would gain too much political power from voting
• Feared the African Americans would unite with poor white farmers & elect Populists
• 1890s- serveral tactics were used to keep African Americans from voting (in South)
◦ Voters needed to own property or pay a poll tax (a special fee that must be paid before a person could vote)
◦ Had to pass literacy tests to prove you could read, write, & meet minimum standards of knowledge
‣ African Americans had trouble meeting these requirements, which were designed to keep African Americans from voting
• Poll taxes & literacy tests could keep poor white farmers from voting too
◦ Southern democrats wanted to keep them from supporting a Populist candidate
• Protect white voting rights by passing special laws with grandfather clauses (exempted men from certain voting restrictions if they had already voted, or if they had ancestors who voted prior to African Americans being granted suffrage). African Americans didn't meet qualifications.
• These laws kept African Americans from voting without singling out the group by name, which would have been unconstitutional
• Many states instituted a system of legal segregation, which ensured that African Americans were treated as second-class citizens
‣ When the separation is the result of custom it is called de facto segregation (the condition exists in fact, not law)
• In South, segregation was required by statutes called Jim Crow Laws
◦ Jim Crow laws became firmly established in South
◦ Appeared a few years after the end of reconstruction
◦ By early 1900s, they dominated every aspect of Southern daily life
◦ Required separation of blacks & whites in schools, parks, public buildings, hospitals, transportation systems, water fountains, public toilets, & could not sit in same section theatre
◦ Facilities for African Americans were almost always inferior
• Segregation laws first appeared in 1830s when MA allowed railroad companies to separate black & white passengers.
Plessy vs. Ferguson
• At the end of the nineteenth century, the Supreme Court upheld many Jim Crow laws.
• One of the most significant setbacks to African American equality was in the Supreme Court's establishment of the "separate-but-equal" doctrine in the case Plessy vs Ferguson in 1896.
• African American Homer Plessy argued that his right to "equal protection of the laws" was violated by a Louisiana law that required separate seating for white and black citizens on public railroads.
• The Court held that segregation was legal as long as the separate facilities provided for blacks were equal to those provided to whites and that the 14th Amendment was "not intended to give Negros social equality but only political and civil equality".
• Whites tried to keep blacks "in their place" by making them use inferior facilities and using a system of customs and etiquette that required that blacks always show deference to whites.
• The worst kind of violence toward blacks was lynching, which was the murder of an accused person by a mob without a lawful trial.
• About 1,200 African Americans were lynched between 1882 and 1892.
• The victims were often suspected criminals, those who overstepped their status as second class citizens or shown too little respect to whites, or those who were in financial competition with whites.
Race Relations in the North
• Many African Americans moved North to escape violence and legal segregation, where they found de facto discrimination, discrimination "in fact" instead of by law.
• As many blacks moved to industrial cities, they began to compete with American-born whites and recent immigrants for work.
• Whites' fears of racial equality and losing jobs erupted in the form of race riots in New York City in 1900 and in Springfield, Illinois in 1908.
• The Springfield riot resulted in whites attacking, looting, and burning black businesses and homes and killing two elderly African Americans.
• Black leaders began to seek new approaches to race problems
• Many outspoken African Americans came together to denounce all discrimination
• The Niagara movement was created, 400 members and they won few victories
• Members joined with concerned white citizens to discuss solutions to the conflict between races
The NAACP & Civil Roghts
• Mary White Ovington who was a white social worker helped organize the national conference
• Many leaders of the Niagara movement attended
• This even marked the founding of the interracial national association for the advancement of colored people (NAACP)
• In 1914 the NAACP had 50 branches and 6,000 members
• It won its first major victory when the Supreme Court declared grandfather clauses in voting laws unconstitutional in 1915.
• African American mutual and benefit societies multiplied in the 1900s
• During this period African American intellectuals began to publish literature, history, and groundbreaking sociological studies
• George Washington carver became known for his scientific and agricultural research
• Black owned businesses became appearing everywhere
• Madam C. J. Walker spoke at the annual meeting of the negro business league
• With her business success she moved to NYC
• She offered her home as a gathering place for African American leaders, she supported civil rights with large contributions, and she made many speeches for the anti-lynching drives of the NAACP and for American women's organizations.