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Jim Crow Laws: Blacks Law Dictionary


Jim Crow law Hist. (1891) A law enacted or purposely interpreted to discriminate against blacks, such as a law requiring separate restrooms for blacks and whites. • Jim Crow laws are unconstitutional under the 14th Amendment.

“At the same time that the caricature of blacks as ‘Jim Crow’ was perpetuated through popular culture, barriers to legal and social advancement were maintained through rigid policies of segregation, enforced by custom in the North and by law in the South. The Supreme Court gave its blessing to all such laws and customs in 1896 when it formally approved a state law restricting blacks to separate cars on trains, popularly referred to as Jim Crow cars … From then on more and more laws were passed throughout the South consigning blacks to separate (and inevitably inferior) ‘Jim Crow’ facilities; naturally these were referred to as Jim Crow laws. By the 1920s this systematic segregation of blacks was being referred to as Jim Crowism, and finally, in the 1940s, the term completed its evolution, with the entire system of subjection of blacks to white control being referred to simply as Jim Crow.” James E. Clapp et al., Lawtalk: The Unknown Stories Behind Familiar Legal Expressions 142–43 (2011).

“Jim Crow” was a slang term for a black person. The name came from on old black song and was a character that appeared in the piece of music. A Jim Crow law permitted racial discrimination. Mitford M. Mathews (ed.), A Dictionary of Americanisms on Historical Principles 906–07 (1951).  4th Floor Reference; PE 2835 D5