Tag Archives: jim crow laws

Discrimination Is Embedded In The Soul Of America

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I believe it was Solomon who once 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 overtime; 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.

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!!!

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The Magic of #42

There are moments in time where time itself demands change. There was such a moment in the Spring of 1947 when an African American baseball player named Jackie Robinson stepped up to the plate and changed the face of the game. It is an honor for me to pay homage to Mr. Robinson whose character, stature, and integrity was beyond reproach.

Born January 31, 1919, in Cairo, Georgia, Jackie Robinson was the first African American to play in the so-called major leagues in more than fifty years. Throughout his decade-long career with the Brooklyn Dodgers, he made advancements in the cause of civil rights for black athletes. In 1955, he helped the Dodgers win the World Series. He retired in 1957, with a career batting average of .311.

Now, as is often the case with His-Story much of what we know about history is a myth. Let me use a quote that I often use by the prolific French writer, historian, and philosopher Voltaire who said, “History is a pack of trick we play upon the dead”. What I mean by that is this dynamic historical event actually was a simple as a black man being allowed to play a game with white people as a result of the rigid “Jim Crow” laws mandated by the law of the land – America.

At the time, the sport as well as America was segregated. African-Americans and whites played in separate leagues with Robinson who played in the famed Negro Leagues, but was chosen by Branch Rickey, a vice president with the Brooklyn Dodgers, to help integrate major league baseball. He joined the all-white Montreal Royals, a farm team for the Brooklyn Dodgers, in 1945. He moved to Florida in 1946 to begin spring training with the Royals, and played his first game on March 17 of that same year.

Now, we have been told that Branch Rickey did this out of good conscience and for the cause of civil rights. Well that is not exactly true. Rickey saw an opportunity to make money. The Negro league was prospering and the white league was barely surviving. He knew if he could convince one Negro player, and Robinson was not the best player in the Negro league, Rickey knew others would follow, and they did. Hence, the Negro league ceased to exist. Let me add that Mr. Robinson, an average player, was better than all of the white players playing in the white league at the time.

It is not my intention to neither demean nor take away from the significance of the huge step toward equality. Despite the racial abuse, particularly at away games, Robinson character prevailed as he endured the most brutal harassment, threats, and derogatory language hurled at him on and off the field. It is because of his superb character that we should celebrate this great man.

Jackie Robinson succeeded in putting the prejudice and racial strife aside, and showed everyone what a talented player he was. In his first year, he hit 12 home runs and helped the Dodgers win the National League pennant. That year, Robinson led the National League in stolen bases and was selected as Rookie of the Year. He continued to wow fans and critics alike with impressive feats, such as an outstanding .342 batting average during the 1949 season. He led in stolen bases that year and earned the National League’s Most Valuable Player Award.

Robinson also became a vocal champion for African-American athletes, civil rights, and other social and political causes. In July 1949, he testified on discrimination before the House Un-American Activities Committee. In 1952, he publicly called out the Yankees as a racist organization for not having broken the color barrier five years after he began playing with the Dodgers.

In his decade-long career with the Dodgers, Robinson and his team won the National League pennant several times. Finally, in 1955, he helped them achieve the ultimate victory: the World Series. After failing before in four other series match-ups, the Dodgers beat the New York Yankees. He helped the team win one more National League pennant the following season, and was then traded to the New York Giants. Jackie Robinson retired shortly after the trade, on January 5, 1957, with an impressive career batting average of .311.

Let me close with what really happen that day – number 42 was just a number until Mr. Jack Robinson wore it! And that’s my Thought Provoking Perspective.

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