How was segregation and racial inequality created in the South?
1. Literacy Tests – The democrats
passed voter qualification laws that mandated that a person had to
read in order to vote. Most Blacks were asked to read the
constitution. Considering that most had been slaves, and were
uneducated, they could not pass the test. This took away the rights
of blacks to vote.
2. Poll Taxes – The democrats passed voter qualification
laws that mandated that a person had to pay a two dollar tax in order
to vote. This was much of money for a newly freed slave and most
could not afford it.
3. Grandfather clause – The democrats passed voter
qualification laws that mandated that a person could only vote if
their grandfather had been eligible to vote and had been a citizen.
Since most slaves’ grandfathers had also been slaves they did not
qualify to vote under these laws.
These laws were specifically designed to take away the
political power of Blacks by taking away their right to vote granted
in the 15th amendment. This is known as attempting to
disenfranchise the Blacks. The word
franchise means “the right to vote” (as does
suffrage). To disenfranchise means “to take away
the right to vote.
4. Jim Crow Laws – These were laws passed to separate
Blacks from Whites. This process was known as segregation. Jim
Crow laws created separate facilities throughout the south for Blacks
a. The creation of segregation by law is called
de jure segregation (segregation by law).
b. The other type of segregation that existed in the south was
called de facto segregation, or segregation by the fact
that it exists. Socially, not legally sanctioned.
Clearly reconstruction had not met the goal of bringing about
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
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
What happened when the Jim Crow Laws were challenged? (Plessy v
1. Blacks felt that the Jim Crow laws
violated the 14th amendment that provided equal protection under the
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
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
– Justice Henry Brown, Majority Opinion, Plessey v
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.