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Social Studies help for American History, Economics and AP Government. There are class notes, numerous Supreme Court case summaries and information on how to write a research paper inside.

How was legalized segregation created in the south?

When reconstruction came to an end in 1877 southerners wanted more tan anything else to rid themselves of what they felt was the "Black problem." Years of slavery had left an entrenched racism. Reconstruction had not taught southerners that Blacks were equals. In fact, the very notion was abhorrent to southerners. Now that reconstruction was over southerners had to find a way to limit the political power of blacks and place themselves back in power. They also wanted nothing to do with Blacks and began to pass laws that would ensure white social, economic and political power.

I. The creation of a divided society.

A. How did White southerners remove the political power of Blacks?

1. As discussed in the last lesson, whites passed a series of voter qualification laws such as:

a. Poll Taxes

b. Literacy Tests

c. Grandfather Clause

2. All of these laws served to disenfranchise blacks. (If you don't know the word disenfranchise look it up in the last lesson's notes.)

B. How did white southerners justify these laws?

1. According to the constitution laws regarding voter qualifications were a reserved power left up to the states. Therefore southern states could pass laws that went around the 15th amendment.

C. How did Whites separate Blacks from Whites?

1. The passed a series of laws making it illegal for Blacks and Whites to share the same schools, trains, etc. These were called Jim Crow Laws.

2. Here are some examples of the Jim Crow laws in Alabama.

No person or corporation shall require any white female nurse to nurse in wards or rooms in hospitals, either public or private, in which Negro men are placed.

The conductor of each passenger train is authorized and required to assign each passenger to the car or the division of the car, when it is divided by a partition, designated for the race to which such passenger belongs.

Every employer of white or negro males shall provide for such white or negro males reasonably accessible and separate toilet facilities.

D. What happened when the Jim Crow Laws were challenged? (Plessy v Ferguson)

1. Blacks felt that the Jim Crow laws violated the 14th amendment that provided equal protection under the law.

2. Homer Plessey, a member of a citizens group protesting the Jim Crow laws that created segregation in the south, was arrested for violating the law that forced Blacks to ride in separate train cars. Plessey claimed that the laws violated the 14th amendment to the Constitution that said that all citizens were to receive "equal protection under the law." The state argued that Plessey and other Blacks did receive equal treatment, just separate.

3. Plessey's conviction of a violation of Jim Crow laws has upheld by the Court. The Court ruled that the 14th amendment said that Blacks did not have the right to the same facilities, just equal facilities. By ruling this way the court created the doctrine of "separate but equal."

Here are excerpts from the decision:

Laws permitting, and even requiring, their separation (of Blacks and Whites) in places where they are liable to be brought into contact do not necessarily imply the inferiority of either race to the other, and have been generally, if not universally, recognized as within the competency of the state legislatures in the exercise of their police power. The most common instance of this is connected with the establishment of separate schools for white and colored children, which has been held to be a valid exercise of the legislative power even by courts of States where the political rights of the colored race have been longest and most earnestly enforced.

We think the enforced separation of the races... neither abridges the privileges or immunities of the colored man, deprives him of his property without due process of law, nor denies him the equal protection of the laws within the meaning of the Fourteenth Amendment.

Justice Henry Brown, Majority Opinion, Plessey v Ferguson, 1896.

4. This ruling set the stage for 58 years of de jure segregation until overturned by Brown v The Board of Education, Topeka Kansas in 1959.


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