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Jim Crow: The Laws That Replaced Slavery

Slavery was ended after the Civil War, but that didn’t make everyone equal.

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After the American Civil War ended and slavery was abolished, black Americans were finally able to live without being forced to work for no pay. However, this did not mean they were fully free. Local and state governments, especially in the South, almost immediately began passing the Jim Crow laws.

What Are Jim Crow Laws?

These laws were designed to relegate black people to second-class citizens status. Blacks were denied by law the right to vote, hold certain jobs, or obtain education. These laws also created and maintained a system of racial segregation, in which black people were forced to do things in their own spaces, away from white people. Basically, they were designed to replace slavery and keep black Americans powerless and in poverty.

The Black Codes

The beginnings of Jim Crow laws can be traced back to early 1865 after the 13th Amendment, which abolished slavery, was passed. These first laws, called Black Codes, determined how and where former slaves could work and how much they could be paid. They prevented black people from voting and controlled where they could live and travel. These laws were intended to ensure that black people always remained behind white people when it comes to freedom and wealth.

The Expansion of Jim Crow

While the first black codes were bad, these laws were not common in big cities in the South in the early 1880s. Black people enjoyed more freedom in these cities, so many began moving to these areas. Unfortunately, white residents responded by pushing for more laws to limit freedoms for the African Americans who relocated, which resulted in a widespread expansion of Jim Crow in the South.

The 20th Century

In the early 1900s, Jim Crow grew from being a system of laws to a widespread anti-black sentiment. White supremacy groups arose to harass and terrorize African Americans, and race riots broke out across the country.

The End of Jim Crow

The end of Jim Crow laws was a long process. The Civil Rights movement fought for decades to stop the oppression that these laws caused. Many leaders of the movement worked to bring about the removal of these measures. There were several historical events that serve as landmarks on the way to the eventual destruction of the Jim Crow system.

The Jim Crow era ensured that the legacy of slavery persisted even though the practice had been made illegal. Even though these laws have been removed, the effects are still felt by many African Americans to this day.

Race Relations & Media Affairs Correspondent at and A self-confessed news and political junkie, Jeff’s writing has been featured in Small Business Trends, Business2Community, and The Huffington Post. Born in Southern California and having experienced the 1992 L.A. Riots up close and personal, Jeff’s insights are informed by his experiences as a black man and a conservative.

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