I believe it was Solomon who said “there is nothing new under the sun.” This is a powerful statement! If you look at how history repeats itself, you will come to know this is true. For example, we see today how the Republicans are trying to turn back the hands of time by trying to suppress the voting rights of many minorities you should know this is not new either. This has been a staple of the American political structure.
There have been many ways to suppress people over time; unfortunately, Black people have endured the brunt of these efforts. Of course, as you know, the history of America reports that it was not only Black people affected by these efforts. Just look at what they did to the Native American’s! What I can report is that it was always a minority most affected by these laws to ensure a permanent underclass.
This ideology of White Supremacy began as indentured servants, then slavery, segregation, and now could it be conservatism. In each of these classifications, they called these laws codes, which I suppose make the immoral sanctions sound kinder. The truth is its sole purpose was to suppression the vote and take away rights. Kind of like the agenda behind the States Rights dog whistles we hear today.
Black Codes were laws passed designed specifically to take away civil rights and civil liberties of Black people primarily at the state and local level. This is the reason Conservatives desire a return to “States Rights” and speak of taking back our country because at the state level they can be unimpeded in turning back the hands of time.
Although, most of the discriminatory legislation, in terms of Black Codes, were used more often by Southern states to control the labor, movements and activities of newly freed slaves at the end of the Civil War. But as Malcolm X once said, “Anywhere south of Canada was South” meaning wherever you were in America you were subjected to discrimination in terms of the “separate but equal” laws of the land.
The Black Codes of the 1860’s are not the same as the Jim Crow laws. The Black Codes were in reaction to the abolition of slavery and the South’s defeat in the Civil War. Southern legislatures enacted them during Reconstruction. The Jim Crow era began later, nearer to the end of the 19th century after Reconstruction, with its unwritten laws.
Then there were sundown laws, which meant Blacks, could not live or be caught in certain towns after dark. In some cases, signs were placed at the town’s borders with statements similar to the one posted in Hawthorne California that read “Nigger, Don’t Let The Sun Set On YOU In Hawthorne” in the 1930’s. In some cases, exclusions were official town policy, restrictive covenants, or the policy was enforced through intimidation.
After the abolition of slavery by the Thirteenth Amendment of the United States Constitution, which prior to that Colored’s [as they called them] were considered 3/5’s human. Therefore, all former slave states adopted Black Codes. During 1865, every Southern state passed Black Codes that restricted the Freemen, who were emancipated but not yet full citizens.
While they pursued re-admission to the Union, the Southern states provided freedmen with limited second-class civil rights and no voting rights. Southern plantation owners feared that they would lose their land. Having convinced themselves that slavery was justified, planters feared the former slaves wouldn’t work without coercion. The Black Codes were an attempt to control them and to ensure they did not claim social equality.
The Black Codes outraged public opinion in the North because it seemed the South was creating a form of quasi-slavery to evade the results of the war. After winning large majorities in the 1866 elections, the Republicans put the South under military rule. They held new elections in which the Freedmen could vote. Suffrage was also expanded to poor whites. The new governments repealed all the Black Codes; they were never reenacted – OFFICIALLY.
Therefore, we see hints of it in the racism that has raised its ugly head and risen to the surface of society’s consciousness, particularly in this political climate. Since the Civil Rights Movement of the 1950s and 1960s, and especially since the Civil Rights Act of 1968 prohibited racial discrimination concerning the sale, rental, and financing of housing, the number of sundown towns has decreased.
As one historian has noted, “Racial segregation was hardly a new phenomenon because slavery had fixed the status of most blacks, no need was felt for statutory measures segregating the races. These restrictive Black Codes have morphed in one form or another to achieve its desired effect to maintain a superior status by the powers that be. I am only suggesting that we know and understand history for it will open the mind to what the future may present.
This rule of law then, remains the same today! Frankly, if you don’t know where you came from you will never get to where you are going. And that’s my Thought Provoking Perspective!!!