Jim Crow Era Brian arruda


Thesis: African Americans did not get the justice they deserved due to the judicial system not doing its job correctly and constitutionally.

Emmett Till lynching

There is a well known lynching that occurred in 1955. The victim's name was Emmett Till. He was from the north and was visiting his family down south. Since he lives in the north, he did not experience Jim Crow etiquette as much, so when he said "Bye baby" to a white women in a store, he did not realize that he had just offended her. Later that day, two stopped by where he was staying and picked him up. The next day he was found dead.

The murder got brought to court. The Till family was hope no for some closure and justice, but becuase of the racial biases of the time, they did not receive any. There was an all white male jury, which sided with the defendants, who were two white men. The two white men ended up pleading not guilty. They ended up fussing to the murder later on.

Plessy vs. Ferguson

Plessy vs. Ferguson is a famous court case that made its way to the Supreme Court. Homer Plessy is only 1/8 African American but still identified with the African American population. He boarded a train and sat down in the whites only car. He was arrested and brought to trial. The Supreme Court ruled "Separate but equal". This means that segregation would be legal so long as it was equal.

The Supreme Court

The judicial system did not do its job during the Jim Crow Era. The Supreme Court deemed the Civil Rights Act of 1875 unconstitutional. They said that segregation was legal so long as it was equal. They also allowed states to put restrictions on voting such as grandfather clauses, poll taxes and literacy tests.


African Americans did not get the same opportunities as whites did, therefore they could not participate in the economy and help it grow.

Primary source audio files-Baldwin

Since the white community was always attakcong the African American community, they weren't allowed to participate into he economy fully. One example of this is when a Ms. Baldwin bought a Cadillac. When he police chief of the town, waynesboro saw her with her new car, he questioned her.

He said that since she was African American, she can't be seen driving around in a Cadillac because that would infer that she is equal or better than whites, so the police chief made her repiten the car and buy a cheaper and less fancy car. This is just one of the ways whites limited African Americans from fully participating and helping the economy.

Brown vs. Board of Education

This was another famous court case that made it's way to the Supreme Court. But this time it reversed the "Seperare but equal" notion that the Supreme Court previously stated. Segregation was now illegal and not equal. Before this court case though, African Americans would have to go to less prestigeous schools that are more run down and farther away than the white public schools. Since these children did not get the same quality of education, they could not get good jobs and wouldn't be able to support their families. This also didn't allow them to participate fully in the economy.


Sharecropping is the process where a African American would either rent and or take care of the land of a white landowner. In return for this, the African Americans would receive very little pay and some of the crop produced. Since it was very hot and dropped that like most of the time down south, the farmers would not be that successful, so when the crop is collected at the end of the year, the white landowner would usually rip off the African American by taking most of the drop and not paying him and or her enough money. The landowners excuse was that since the African American tending to the land didn't produce enough crop, the landowner was entitled to take more and give less. This kept the African American community in poverty and alos kept them out of the mainstream economy.

Social and Cultural

Although African Americans worked hard and long, they were always portrayed as dumb, silly and awkward in pictures, media and by people because whites wanted to make them feel inferior and unequal.

Jim Crow museum

There is a museum in Michigan that covers this topic. It has many racist memorabilia and images from the the Jim Crow Era. It explains how Jim Crow started, where it came from, and what groups formed and what things happened during the time period. This picture here to the right is a picture to the Jim Crow character that was created to make fun of African Americans. After the civil war, the passing of the 13th amendment and the beginning of reconstruction, the white community would put on what was called minstrel shows where a white person would dress up in blackface, which is where they paint their face black and have big white eyes and big red lips, to make fun of African Americans. They would act dum and funny. This was a form of entertainment for whites at the time.

Caricatures were very easy to find during the Jim Crow Era. One famous one is to the right here, called mami. It was a stereotype of female African American maids and servants in the house. They would have them be a little chubby, look happy and have a bandana. I bet you even recognize her, from the aunt jemima's syrup bottle possibly? Well, you would be right, because that company used this racist stereotype to market their product. This also shows that these racist stereotypes are still around.

The Omaha Courthouse Lynching

This is another famous lynching that occurred in 1919 in Omaha, Nebraska. At the time, this lynching wasn't significant, but when we look back at this lynching and this time period, we see all the innocent African Americans being lynched just because of the color of their skin. In this instance, Will Brown, a African American, was accused of raping a white woman. Many people were angry and thought he should die rather than face a fair trial, so thousands of them took to the streets to protest. They eventually got very violent and broke into the jail where Mr. Brown was. They shot him multiple times, burned him and then dragged him through the streets. And remember, this was an everyday horror back then.

Jim Crow Etiquette

Jim Crow Etiquette was the attitudes, actions, words and laws that limited African Americans. It was the cultural norm of the time. An example is shown here, that the African Americans would be segregated and have to sit in the back of buses. This went on for many decades and many people couldn't do much about it since the all white political leaders wouldn't change the legislation and the African Americans would usually be arrested, lynched, beaten or threatened if they challenge these Etiquettes and laws.

Images and more info

Here's an example of how a white man would go into black face

Here's an example of how Jim Crow is still with us in this day and age

Another caricature


Here's a minstrel show

If you would like to research further, here is a documentary series on the rise and fall of Jim Crow.

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