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The term Jim Crow probably originated in 19th-century minstrelsy, and it had some pre-Civil War usage, not in the South but in the North, to describe separate facilities for blacks and whites, including steamboats, hotels and restaurants. In the late 19th century, however, the term Jim Crow took on a new meaning, symbolizing the southern, and eventually national, system of legal segregation. Jim Crowism was given the legal stamp of approval in the "separate-but-equal" principle in the Plessy v. Ferguson Supreme Court case (1896), but in everyday ways of relating and with a growing number of state laws and political devices, segregation of the races had long since become a reality. The standard device for disenfranchisement came in 1890 when Mississippi pioneered in restricting black voting through literacy, poll taxes and property qualifications. In 1881 Tennessee amended an earlier statute preventing blacks from suing discriminatory railroads with a new law requiring railroad companies to furnish separate cars for "colored passengers," and by 1900 all southern states had segregated their transportation systems. Throughout much of the South, including Harrisonburg and Rockingham County, separate educational facilities were a reality soon after the Civil War. During the first half of the 20th century Jim Crow was physically embodied in separate water fountains, eating places, bathrooms, Bibles in courtrooms and pervasive signs stating "Colored" and "White." The Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka (1954) Supreme Court decision integrating schools and the Montgomery, Alabama bus boycott (1955) signaled the beginning of the end of the Jim Crow era.



Georgia Set up first Jim Crow school systems
1891 Georgia Jim Crow railroad seating
1900 South Carolina Jim Crow railroad cars
1905 Georgia Separate parks for whites and blacks
1906 Alabama Jim Crow street cars
1910 Baltimore, MD Blacks and whites not allowed to live on same blocks
1914 Louisiana Separate entrances and seating at circuses

South Carolina



Separate entrances, working rooms, pay windows, water glasses, etc.,. For workers in the same factory
Oklahoma Separate phone booths for whites and blacks
South Carolina Amount voted to educate each white child was twelve times amount voted to educate each black child
1922 Mississippi Jim Crow taxicabs
1926 Atlanta, GA Black barbers could not cut the hair of white women
1932 Atlanta, GA White and black baseball clubs could not play within two blocks of each other
1933 Texas Blacks and white could not wrestle together
1935 Oklahoma Blacks and whites could not boat or fish together
1937 Arkansas Segregation at race tracks
1944 Virginia Jim Crow waiting rooms at airports
1965 Louisiana State money could not be spent on black schools

“Between 1892 to 1895 blacks gained political prominence in several Southern states, but this was short-lived as in 1896 the land-rich whites became bent upon disenfranchising blacks completely. This began a 25-year-long denunciation of the black as an inferior creation, incapable of moral vitality or learning and the drafting of laws that would disenfranchise blacks and not contravene the 15th Amendment to the Constitution. This was the birth of the Southern Alliance, the coming together of conservative Bourbons, opportunistic politicians and poverty-stricken farmers in an atmosphere of panic for the express purpose of translating a psychological aberration into a social institution. “Taking the floor of the Virginia convention in 1906, Carter Glass said: ‘We are here to discriminate to the very extremity of permissible action under the limitation of the Federal Constitution, with a view to the eliminating of every negro voter who can be gotten rid of, legally, without materially impairing the numerical strength of the white electorate.’ “The entire South followed the same pattern. The result was the maze of voting laws, literacy tests, poll taxes and other ballot box curios that linger until now. “The total humiliation of blacks was under way. Tennessee led by passing the first Jim Crow law. All over the South the ‘white’ and ‘colored’ signs went up. Trains, busses, barbershops, schools and all other public places were segregated by law. Then, in 1896, the United States Supreme Court rendered the now famous Plessy vs. Ferguson decision, which set forth the doctrine of ‘separate but equal.’ Segregation thus became an American institution, a way of life imbedded in the law of the land. But if ‘separate but equal’ was the law, ‘separate and unequal’ was the practice.”
The Negro Revolt, Louis Lomax


“ The phrase Jim Crow dates to 1830. Thomas Rice, a famous white entertainer, walked out of his Baltimore theater to observe a black singer-dancer performing in the alley. Rice ‘borrowed’ the man’s dance routine and costume and enlarged on the song he was singing. He made the words famous all over the world – ‘wheel about, turn about, dance jest so – every time I wheel about I shout Jim Crow!’ While whites found the character created by Rice funny and cute, blacks found it hateful. Like another white invention, ‘Uncle Tom,’ which blacks used to describe a man afraid of standing up for his rights, blacks used ‘Jim Crow’ to mean the many kinds of discrimination they faced in America.”
Eyewitness: The Negro in American History, Katz

“One of the morale-building devices used by slave owners was the granting of holidays, which invariably included July 4 and December 25. The latter was the favorite, often running on for a week, the highlight coming on Christmas morning. When the slaves came to the big house to be greeted by the master and the mistress and to receive sundry small gifts, plus a dram of liquor, they were sometimes permitted to have a dance; if no fiddler were available, they would ‘Pat Juba.’ To ‘dance Jim Crow’ was one of their favorites: Once upon the heel tap, And then upon the toe, An’ ev’ry time I turn around I jump Jim Crow.”
The Negro in the Making of America, Benjamin Quarles

(“Pat Juba” was a tradition brought over from Africa and passed down. It involved dancing to their own beat, often a clapping or moving of feet.)





Ruth Toliver (left) and Carlotta Harris (right) enjoy the pair of temporary exhibits currently on display.