When the War Between the States ended, the Constitution was amended to free slaves, grant them citizenship, and give them the vote. Concurrent with these three Constitutional amendments, White Northerners felt pressured to stop treating Blacks as second class citizens. So the North began to modify and/or eliminate its Black Codes.
The South’s Black Codes became known as ‘Jim Crow’ laws. This designation was taken from minstrel shows in New York that stereotyped Blacks as lazy and buffoonish. An oft featured act was ‘Jump Jim Crow’, performed by a shabbily attired White Northerner with blackface. This act preceded many minstrel shows as it was highly popular with audiences who would sing along with the performer, clapping and stamping their feet.
The epithet ‘Jim Crow’ should have been abandoned during the Civil Rights Movement. But, well into the 21st century, Liberals continue to use the racist invective ‘Jim Crow South’, although relations between the races in that region are amiable.
As the 1800s drew to a close, Atlanta newspaper journalist Henry Grady anticipated that the agrarian South would become industrialized. Consequently he proposed that the Southern region be called the ‘New South.’ His designation ‘New South’ is certainly more accurate than ‘Jim Crow South.’ But ‘New South’ is anathema to social activists because it depicts the region favorably.
Georgia’s requirement that voters prove their identity with a photo ID is referred to as a ‘Jim Crow’ voting restriction. Black media icon Stacey Abrams refers to Georgia’s voting laws as “a redux of Jim Crow in a suit and tie.” But there have been widespread incidents of suspected voter fraud, especially in the 2020 presidential election. And several states require either a photo ID or another official form of identification in order to vote.
‘Jim Crow 2.0’ is how Stacey Abrams describes Georgia’s SB 202 – Election Integrity Act of 2021. This Bill attempts to correct deficiencies primarily in absentee voting, early voting, and vote counting. But media celebrity Abrams perceives these so-called corrections as ‘voter suppression’, preventing Black votes.
Critical Race Theory ( CRT) accusations are comparable to Jim Crow inferences.
CRT maintains that all Whites are White supremacists who oppress Blacks and prevent them from attaining full legal rights. CRT also contends that Whites are beneficiaries of unearned privileges denied to Black communities. Consequently news media focuses solely on problems of Blacks even though Whites are roughly 60 % of the population whereas Blacks are only 13 %.
In her book “The New Jim Crow” civil rights activist Michelle Alexander objects to the imprisonment of Black drug offenders. These Black males are serving time for possession and trafficking of illegal drugs. Alexander ignores the fact that these felons violated existing laws and were properly arrested, tried, and convicted. Claiming that they are victims of Jim Crow Laws, she not only wants them released from prison but wants their conviction records wiped clean.
Jim Crow also influences reparations for slavery. Neither victims nor perpetrators of slavery are still alive and we cannot assume that all Blacks suffered slavery comparably or that all Whites benefited comparably. But Black activists consider Jim Crow laws a continuation of slavery. So the detriment caused by Jim Crow laws justifies reparations.
Finally, mention should be made of Michigan’s Ferris State University’s “Jim Crow Museum of Racist Memorabilia.” Yes. You read that correctly – a Jim Crow museum. The purpose of the museum is to make students aware of “...restrictive covenants, literacy tests, poll taxes, and other oppressive features of the Jim Crow racial hierarchy." The thinking is that such exhibits will “...teach tolerance and promote social justice". But these exhibits are more likely to increase animosity between the races.
Leftist activists insist that America is not a ‘post-racial society’ but is systemically racist. We frequently hear phrases like racism, bigotry, color discrimination, racial prejudice, White supremacy and on and on. But a growing number of citizens reject the ‘systemically racist’ caricature of our country and still take pride in being Americans. Hopefully these patriots will be able to eliminate terms like ‘Jim Crow’ from our vocabulary.
Gail Jarvis is a Georgia-based free-lance writer. He attended the University of Alabama and has a degree from Birmingham Southern College. His writing is influenced by years of witnessing how versions of news and history were distorted for political reasons. Mr. Jarvis is a member of the Society of Independent Southern Historians and his articles have appeared on various websites, magazines, and publications for several organizations. He lives in Coastal Georgia.