Jim Crow in Society Made by David Murphy

Political Field


After the Plessy B. Ferguson case where the Supreme Court ruler that races could be legally divided, many states, particularly in the South, started to take advantage of this and create laws that divided blacks and whites. The unfair thing was that the Supreme Court said that this legal segregation could occur if the two races got "separate but equal" treatment, but unfortunately most towns and cities didn't abide by that rule.

“Separate free schools shall be established for the education of children of African descent; and it shall be unlawful for any colored child to attend any white school, or any white child to attend a colored school.” —Missouri, 1929

Overall as you can see in the law above, these laws where made to create a racial barrier between whites and black people to make colored people look and feel inferior to whites. There was also laws that stated things that blacks couldn't do such as play games with whites, which happened in Birmingham Alabama, 1930.

Court Disadvantages

In court, if a black man was to be tried for his supposed crimes, He would almost be guaranteed to be acquitted. I say supposed though because commonly. Black would be convicted of crimes they didn't commit. For example in 1931, nine black boys where put in jail for fighting with some white boys on a train, a crime tat would get you arrested as a black person, but not a death penalty sentence. Later on though two white girls would go to the court and claim they where also rapped, and so the black boys where put on trial for rape against an all-white jury, and 8 of the 9 boys where sentenced to death. The boys would appeal for over 20 years and over time, one of the supposed victims would admit that the story was made up. Eventually all of the convictions where dropped. It is still sad to think that these boys who eventually turned into men during there legal troubles went through so much for something that they didn't do.

Additionally I mentioned all-white juries. Since black people couldn't be in a jury, juries would consist of all white people. This would put many blacks, particularly in the South at disadvantage because they wouldn't get a fair trial. When a black person went to the trial, these racist juries essentially didn't care about the evidence the black person was using nor would they listen, they just intended on acquitting the black person. In addition if a white man was on trial for committing a crime on a white person, they would come out with little or no punishment For example, two white men gruesomely murdered a 14-year old boy named Emitt Till for saying bye baby to a white woman, technically a minor crime by Till but a serious crime by the two men. When they went on trial, the jury in the picture declared the two men innocent in under an hour. What was worse was later one of the men admitted to murdering Till. Overall, Juries made it very tough for blacks to gain any justice in court

Grandfather Clauses

When slavery was abolished in 1865, whites looked for ways to make sure black didn't gain the same rights they have in a legal way. Later on in Jim Crow in 1898 legislators created a thing called a grandfather clause. Essentially the clause let you vote as long as your grandfather could vote in the country. This was a legal loophole though because as we know, the black people of this times grandfathers(who where slaves) had no rights at all and couldn't vote, so therefore the current blacks couldn't vote. In the picture the page is a white man confirming his grandfathers vote before 1967. The clause was also created the effect that since the blacks couldn't vote now, there grandchildren also wouldn't be able to vote and the cycle would repeat itself until the law would be abolished (thankfully, it was ended quickly in 1915). Unfortunately though Southern states would continue to come up with ways to suppress black peoples stances on politics. For example in Oklahoma legislators made a law that stated that blacks could only vote if they could before 1915(when grandfather clauses where dismantled) so essentially the situation was back where it started. Overall these laws that silenced blacks involvement in politics where made to make sure black didn't have influence in politics n gifting for their rights.

Economic Field

Literacy Tests

Literacy tests where commonly used throughout the Ji Crow era to try and prove that whites where superior to blacks. The problem was that many of the questions on these literacy tests where worded oddly and where questions that sometimes whites could only answer, whether it be a question based on class or a question based on content not learned in less funded black schools. Like I mentioned many questions where based on class. For example on the test used to recruit soldiers during WW1 you may get a question like what a certain part of a light bulb was called even though many black people did not even have access to light bulbs. Overall the test was set up for black people to fail and when they did, white people would use it as "evidence" to prove they where more intellectually competent than blacks. Below are some questions that have have been used on the test.

Write right from left to the right as you see it spelled here
Draw five circles that one common inter-locking part
Write every other word in this first line and print every third word in same line,(original type smaller than comma) but capitalize the fifth word taht you write

All of the 3 questions above where used on a 1960's Louisiana test to try and prove that whites where better and this proved controversial being during the Civil Rights Movement. Overall as you can see all three questions many be difficult to blacks because of their education and class.


Many white people during Jim Crow took it upon themselves to make sure that black people got the worst jobs of the bunch and got treated badly while they did there jobs. In a paper from the National Bureau of Economic Research, the researchers pinpointed that the main reason black wages where significantly lower due to the fact that they had worse schools. This does make sense overall considering that black schools where less funded and didn't prepare students for careers as well as white schools did. In addition to schools, many white employers didn't except black, like the picture in the background. Overall they felt that the blacks where a threat to the community, and when the blacks where denied from these jobs, they where forced into a situation where they had to accept low paying jobs like sharecropping, where they were often exploited and treated unfairly.

Sharecropping and many other jobs in which blacks worked for service for whites where common jobs among black people. These jobs where the easiest to get, but they had the worst possibilities. Overall like the stories from Chatmon and Cherry on Haiku, we see that blacks where treated poorly in these already poor jobs. They could exploit you like how they did Chatmon's dd in where they didn't give him his promised money or they could physically or verbally abuse you like they did to Olivia Cherry. The worst thing was that it was hard to stand up for your worker rights because. Not only was it extremely difficult to get into worker unions but. If they retaliated directly to their employer, they risked triggering an outrage that could lead to a lynch mob. Overall blacks where put into a tough spot because they where forced to take the jobs others didn't want to do.


During Jim Crow there where over 17 states that at one point required segregated schools. Although the schools claimed to be separate but equal like the Supreme Court instructed, you can clearly see in the background picture that black schools simply weren't as good as white schools, with a bad facility and into enough funds. This started to make an effect on class as with these lesser facilities black students started to underperform, which although it was the plan to make black kids look less smart people started to demand better schools for the blacks because with media coverage, the states with required segregation started to get a lot of national shunning. Schools started to integrate slowly by local choice but when the Brown vs. Board of Education case ended in 1950 all schools where required to be integrated. This didn't go well many white students, and they started to form mobs. For example when the Little Rock 9 attended Central high in Little Rock Arkansas in 1956, things got so bad that then president Dwight D. Eisenhower sent in the 101 airborne to make sure that the 9 students stayed ok. Overall during the period blacks education started to lack and when people tried to fix it, many white people rebelled.

Social/Cultural Field

Unrealistic Stereotypes

Many white people saw a way to make blacks look worse was to go to the media. They recognized that the media had a huge impact on peoples opinions so they figured that if they could portray black people with bad stereotypes that people would go along with the stereotypes. Common stereotypes where laziness, angriness, stupidity, and violence. One common way white People went about with. Showing these stereotypes was blackface. Blackface started in the 1820s when white actors would put on the black makeup and act like plantation workers but over time it developed into the actors putting the makeup on with weird looking lips to make themselves look silly. Then they would act but instead of having any character depth they would just be one of the common stereotypes. Through repetition, this look started to get into peoples heads and it started a trend of people misidentifying blacks. A small gallery can be seen below

Lynch Mobs

Lynch Mobs where when an angry mob would go after a certain person, usually for a crime or etiquette they broke, and kill the person publicly in a gruesome manner. Lynching where almost unheard f in the North, but in the South, many towns have had at least occur. Like I said lynchings could happen for very minor thing or fase things. For example, if you didn't step off the sidewalk when a white man passed by, you may be in danger of the same man showing up at your house hat night with a mob ready to kill you. At the same time you could be lynched for things you may have not done. For example a lady could claim that you raped her and the mob would show up. Overall lynch mobs where very violent, and where so common that it could be considered a culture.


Although not formally written in law like the segregated schools, etiquette was still an expectation that blacks and whites would treat each other a certain way. For example, blacks where supposed to call whites by their forma name while whites where expected to call black by their first name. Overall the etiquette was set up to insure that blacks never felt more powerful than a white person. Many white people where very strict about etiquette. For example with Emitt Till when he said bye baby to Carolyn Bryant and Bryant's Grocery's Bryant's husband got very upset and ended up killing him. Overall blacks where under tight pressure to make sure their etiquette was right because one slip up could potentially get you killed

Sources cited:

Grimsley, Edwin. "African American Wrongful Convictions Throughout History." Innocence Project. N.p., 28 Feb. 2013. Web. 16 Feb. 2017.

"Jim Crow Laws - Separate Is Not Equal." Jim Crow Laws - Separate Is Not Equal. N.p., n.d. Web. 16 Feb. 2017.

Brenc, Willie. "Grandfather Clause, The (1898–1915) | The Black Past:

Remembered and Reclaimed." Grandfather Clause, The (1898–1915) | The Black Past: Remembered and Reclaimed. N.p., n.d. Web. 16 Feb.

Onion, Rebecca. "Take the Impossible “Literacy” Test Louisiana Gave Black Voters in the 1960s." Slate Magazine. N.p., 28 June 2013. Web. 16 Feb. 2017.

White, Gillian B. "Searching for the Origins of the Racial Wage Disparity In Jim Crow America." The Atlantic. Atlantic Media Company, 09 Feb. 2016. Web. 16 Feb. 2017.

"Brown v. Board at Fifty: “With an Even Hand”A Century of Racial Segregation, 1849–1950." Houston, Charles H. N.p., 13 Nov. 2004. Web. 16 Feb. 2017.

Carruthers, Celeste K., and Marianne H. Wanamaker. "Separate and Unequal in the Labor Market: Human Capital and the Jim Crow Wage Gap." NBER. N.p., n.d. Web. 16 Feb. 2017.



PBS. Public Broadcasting Service, n.d. Web. 16 Feb. 2017.

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