To set the stage for the civil rights movement, you must first understand the environment of segregation in the United States in the first half of the 20th century. What was life like in Jim Crow America? Cut and paste this information into a new page in your Unit 8 Online ISN.
You (and your partner, if you have one) are African Americans who have lived through the era of Jim Crow in America. Using the links provided in this activity, respond to the “oral history questions” in first person.

Right after the Civil War, the 14th Amendment was ratified. What did the 14th Amendment provide for African Americans? What does “due process” and “equal protection of the laws” mean? 14th LINK
The 14th Amendment provides citizenship to protect the civil liberties for African Americans. Any person born in the U.S. is considered a citizen. Due process means denying to any one their jurisdiction and equal protection of the laws. Equal protection of the laws means that it doesn't matter what race or religion you are. If you were born in America, you are an American citizen and get treated equally.

Unfortunately, your equal rights were challenged by the Supreme Court in the case of Plessy v. Ferguson. What do you remember about the facts, decision, and impact of this case? Plessy LINK
I remember that Plessy went to jail for sitting in the "white" car of the Louisiana Railroad. Even though he could pass for white the law said he was a black and had to sit in the "colored" car. The decision was that the separation facilities of whites and blacks were constitutional only if it were equal. During the case it was said that it was constitutional for them to tell him to sit in the "colored" car, but then a man named John Harlan saw the consequences for this decision.

The laws developed in the South became known as Jim Crow laws. Who was this Jim Crow fellow? Did he write the laws? Jim Crow LINK
Jim Crow was an exaggerated, stereotypical black character. He then became a stock character in shows. Rice put black make-up on to make it seem like he was black and performed for people all over.. After the term "Jim Crow" became know as an offensive name for a colored person. It then developed to describe laws and customs which oppressed blacks.

What are some specific examples of the Jim Crow laws from southern states? How did the laws affect you? Jim Crow Laws LINK 1 /Jim Crow Laws LINK 2 / Jim Crow Laws LINK 3
Some laws included restrictions such as not allowing us to live in the same apartment building, segregating blacks and whites from eachother in every way possible including things like the train, movie theaters and drinking fountains, and not allowing blacks and whites to be chained in the same room in prisons. Hospitals also went to great measures to make sure that blacks and whites weren't in the same room and were generally on opposite ends of the hospital. This law was established in 1931. There was also a law in much of the west that said that blacks and whites couldn't marry. These laws all greatly affected us. We would have to walk further to get to the back of the train, we didn't have hospital treatment that was as good as whites, and we were being told we could not love white people. These laws were all very degrading and made us feel like we weren't people.

What did Jim Crow America look like in the 1900s? What are some images that can help explain the realities of the time? Jim Crow Images LINK 1 / Jim Crow Images LINK 2


This shows how we were separated from the whites in every way possible.
This is a picture saying that the black waiting room is separate from the white.


The picture shows how we were segregated even for where we drank!

This shows how even our apartment buildings were segregated.

What happened in the Scottsboro Case? How did it make you feel as an African American in the South? Scottsboro LINK
In the Scottosboro Case nine black youth were charged for raping two white women. Even though there is no evidence that they raped the two women the court decided to sentence all but the youngest who was 12 to death. This made me feel angered that even though there was no evidence that these black folks raped the two women they still sentenced 8 of them to death. It makes us feel worthless that whites discriminate us for the things we don't do.

What do some of your friends and family say about life in Jim Crow America? (listen to one or two) Audio History LINK 1