How Life Was Like For Black Americans Under the Jim Crow Law

Slavery is one of the darkest periods of our history. It dealt great injustice to many innocent Black Americans and is a time we should all fight never to happen again.

In the 20th century the Jim Crow Law, a law for segregation, was something everyone had to obey unless they wanted to face severe consequences which often meant public lynching. Under the facade “separate, but equal”, this law had only one objective, and that was the total superiority of whites over other races. 

These segments of the Jim Crow Law show a gruesome reality that was happening not so long ago:

1. Social Segregation

 – It shall be unlawful to conduct a restaurant or other place for the serving of food in the city, at which white and colored people are served in the same room, unless such white and colored persons are effectively separated by a solid partition extending from the floor upward to a distance of seven feet or higher, and unless a separate entrance from the street is provided for each compartment.

 – Every employer of white or negro people shall provide for such whites or negroes reasonably accessible and separate toilet facilities.

People entering the facilities in a segregated entrance

 – All passenger stations operated by any motor transportation company shall have separate waiting rooms or space and separate ticket windows for the white and colored races.

African Americans and other people of color had to have a separate sitting place (usually the back of the bus) where they can stand or sit in public transportation. They also had to pay through a separate window, different from the one white Americans paid through. 

2. Public Facilities

 – The warden of the prison shall see that the white convicts shall have separate apartments for both eating and sleeping from the Negro convicts.

PBS The documentary Slavery

Even children weren’t spared from the horrors of this notorious law. Any black American who wanted to go to school had to be in a separate classroom (some states separate schools even), some of which had conditions one wouldn’t want to study in. 

 – Separate rooms shall be provided for the teaching of pupils of African descent, and when the rooms are provided, such pupils may not be admitted to the school rooms occupied and used by pupils of Caucasian or other descent. 

 – Any instructor who shall teach in any school, college or institution where members of the white and colored races are received and enrolled as pupils for instruction shall be deemed guilty of a misdemeanor, and upon conviction thereof, shall be fined.

– The state librarian is directed to fit up and maintain a separate place for the use of the colored people who may come to the library for the purpose of reading books or periodicals.

3. Medical Care

The Jim Crow Law didn’t even allow for African American and Caucasians to have the same medical care or visit the same hospitals. 

The Board of Control shall see that proper and distinct apartments are arranged for said patients so that in no cases shall Negroes and white persons are together.

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

And just when you thought this law can’t get crueler…they couldn’t even BE BURIED in the same plot of land. Just…ugh.

The officer in charge shall not bury, or allow to be buried, any colored persons upon ground set apart or used for the burial of white persons

4. Sports, games, beer

What today is the main source of socialization for men and women was once something that was against the law. Just look at how far the law on segregation goes: 

All persons licensed to conduct the business of selling beer or wine…shall serve either white people exclusively or colored people exclusively and shall not sell to two races within the same room at any time.

 – It shall be unlawful for a negro and white person to play together or in company with each other at any game of pool or billiards

– It shall be unlawful for any amateur white baseball team to play baseball on any vacant lot or baseball diamond within two blocks of a playground devoted to the Negro race, and it shall be unlawful for any amateur colored baseball team to play baseball in any vacant lot or baseball diamond within two blocks of any playground devoted to the white race.What exactly happened during that time and the pain they endured is something only Black Americans will know, but in an effort to bring that experience into the light, I compiled these photos that represent what happened and how Black Americans were treated. We need to be reminded every day that slavery is something that we, as people, should never let happen again.


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