Jim Crow laws Essay

The thought of Jim Crow laws in America just makes my blood boil, in fact even this assignment is making me sweat. I was fortunate enough to grow up in a time and in a place where segregation was either ending or not in place really in New York City during the 1960’s. I didn’t grow up in the south and experience first hand the Jim Crow laws in place as I was born( full disclosure) in 1959.

Jim Crow laws were simply a repudiation of the Emancipation Proclamation and the adoption of the 14th constitutional amendment. It was basically a retaliation for losing the Civil War and the whites who were apart of the Confederate Army formed the Ku Klux Klan in Pulaski, Tennessee and it quickly spread across the country to promote ‘white power’. Jim Crow laws followed the Reconstruction period in the American South in the 1880s with the landmark Plessy versus Ferguson Supreme Court case where they ruled that “Separate but equal” is was not unconstitutional. The case was regarding a black man trying to ride in a newly formed “white” only street car.

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Jim Crow went on for about 80 years between the 1980-1960s. Jim Crow laws were notable in the South but also existed either De facto or De Jure in the North, West, and Midwestern parts of the U.S.. Four of the laws the were the most ridiculous were separate hospitals, separate restaurants, seperate schools and the fact you couldn’t marry who you love if there were a different skin color than you. Obviously, all of Jim Crow laws were ridiculous but for the sake of this assignment I chose the above 4. What surprised me the most recently,as my son discovered, there was segregation in Arizona and Las Vegas. Hard to believe as we always equate Jim Crow with the southern states.

Segregation was enacted in Arizona in 1909 when it was still a territory. At the main Phoenix High school in the 1920’s the black students were placed in the basement which was known as the “Colored Department”. Around 1926 the Black/Colored Phoenix High School opened its doors to Black students only and had closed in 1954 around the time Brown V. Board took place. (http://www.aaregistry.org/historic_events/view/phoenix-colored-high-school-haven-mind)

Another link I was looking at not too long ago was regarding southern-style Jim Crow in Phoenix restaurants on the north side of the tracks and how this little girl who grew up to be a successful Phoenix Municipal Court Judge told of a story (http://www.myazbar.org/AZAttorney/Archives/July98/7-98a5.htm) about how when she was little she would be with her Dad, who was a Phoenix Attorney and how when she would go to restaurants in Downton Phoenix with his colleague who was the only black attorney at the time in the State of Arizona apparently and they were both Assistant Attorneys General assigned to tthe State Land Department and when they went to a Downtown Phoenix hotel in the story(this was back in 1952 mind you) and when they went inside, intially the Hotel Manager greeted them with displeasure as he had said “You can’t bring him in here with you”. Her father, Honorable Elizabeth Finn’s father Herbert B. Finn went on to essentially plea that his partner , Hayzel Daniels, was a government employee in order to grant him access and even when he was still not receiving services adequately.

Another item regarding Jim Crow was how in South Phoenix, housing was segregated due to housing covenants. These were included in places that were not in the American South like in the north or west. The problem was the black side of town was not kept up. There was poor housing associations, property values, etc. The problem with housing segregation is that it really at the end of the day doesn’t promote equality(which is what the opposition didnt want anyway) but even today we still have this problem in America although it is not not mandated a Jim Crow law. Phoenix was very similar to
Las Vegas in the first half of the 20th Century. ( http://www.roguecolumnist.com/rogue_columnist/2009/11/phoenix-101-minorities.html)

Las Vegas, surprisingly, had a plethora of segregation issues. I didn’t know that blacks or other people of colored were banned from Las Vegas strip hotels before 1964. Las Vegas was run by southern whites who brought their business enterprises out west and brought Jim Crow along with them. Blacks were kept in North Vegas and had to do their businesses on that side of the town. Black performers like Harry Belafonte could perform but only to be quickly ushered out of resort via the back kitchen door. The first fully integrated hotel was the Moulin Rouge resort back in the sixties and other hotels soon followed suit after notable stars like Frank Sinatra threatened if black performers couldn’t stay at the hotel then he and other like-minded stars wouldn’t not perform there and of course there was a classic strike by black workers if the color barriers wouldn’t come down. (http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/amex/lasvegas/peopleevents/p_africanamericans.html)

It is sad that this persisted in our great country a half century + ago, but we musn’t forget and let new forms of segregation occur today!