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Legacy of Jim Crow

"From the 1880s into the 1960s, a majority of American states enforced segregation through "Jim Crow" laws (so called after a black character in minstrel shows). From Delaware to California, and from North Dakota to Texas, many states (and cities, too) could impose legal punishments on people for consorting with members of another race. The most common types of laws forbade intermarriage and ordered business owners and public institutions to keep their black and white clientele separated."
Excerpt from Jim Crow Laws http://www.nps.gov 

Frederick Douglass ...has been called the Father of the Civil Right's Movement...


Documents: Frederick Douglass Frederick Douglass gave many speeches and wrote many letters and essays between 1845 and 1894. Explore the works of this famous American. He begins with a narrative of the life of a slave, and investigates what African-Americans can do to help themselves. Douglass describes how the Constitution relates to the issue of slavery, and reflects on the meaning of the 4th of July for African-Americans. He lists reasons why African-American should enlist in the Civil War and extols the blessings of education.

  • Topic: Douglass, Frederick,--1817?-1895
  • Language: English
  • Lexile: 650
  • http://teachingamericanhistory.org

Modern History Sourcebook: Frederick Douglass: The Hypocrisy of American Slavery, July 4, 1852

A well-known African-American leader in the 19th century, Frederick Douglass had been born into slavery. He escaped in 1838 and had to flee to England to avoid being enslaved again. Quakers helped him purchase his freedom so that he could return in 1847. When invited to speak on the Fourth of July, he could not express gratitude for the blessings of national independent because that freedom didn't extend to his fellow African Americans. From the slave's point of view, the U.S. Constitution and even the Bible didn't guarantee his freedom.

  • Topic: Douglass, Frederick--The hypocrisy of American slavery (1852)
  • Language: English
  • Lexile: 1240
  • Primary Source Material http://www.fordham.edu

The Frederick Douglass Papers at the Library of Congress

Life and Times of Frederick Douglass
His Early Life as a Slave, His Escape from Bondage, and His Complete History to the Present Time:
Electronic Edition. Frederick Douglass, 1818-1895 p.397

"I listened very attentively to this address, uttering no word during its delivery; but when it was finished, I said to the speaker and the committee, with all the emphasis I could throw into my voice and manner: "Gentlemen, with all respect, you might as well ask me to put a loaded pistol to my head and blow my brains out, as to ask me to keep out of this convention, to which I have been duly elected. Then, gentlemen, what would you gain by this exclusion? Would not the charge of cowardice, certain to be brought against you, prove more damaging than that of amalgamation? Would you not be branded all over the land as dastardly hypocrites, professing principles which you have no wish or intention of carrying out? As a mere matter of policy or expediency, you will be wise to let me in. Everybody knows that I have been duly elected as a delegate by the city of Rochester. The fact has been broadly announced and commented upon all over the country. If I am not admitted, the public will ask, 'Where is Douglass? Why is he not seen in the convention?' and you would find that enquiry more difficult to answer than any charge brought against you for favoring political or social equality; but, ignoring the question of policy altogether, and looking at it as one of right and wrong, I am bound to go into that convention; not to do so, would contradict the principle and practice of my life." With this answer, the committee retired from the car in which I was seated, and did not again approach me on the subject; but I saw plainly enough then, as well as on the morning when the Loyalist procession was to march through the streets of Philadelphia, that while I was not to be formally excluded, I was to be ignored by the Convention.

I was the ugly and deformed child of the family, and to be kept out of sight as much as possible while there was company in the house. Especially was it the purpose to offer me no inducement to be present in the ranks of the procession of its members and friends, which was to start from Independence Hall on the first morning of its meeting."


Available in the NHS Library

Events pictureDid you know...

The Bureau of Refugees, Freedmen, and Abandoned Lands was created by Congress in March 1865 to assist for one year in the transition from slavery to freedom in the South. The Bureau was given "the supervision and management of all abandoned lands, and the control of all subjects relating to refugees and freedmen, under such rules and regulations as may be presented by the head of the Bureau and approved by the President." 

taken from The Rise and Fall of Jim Crow - Freedman's Bureau 

Learn about the Freedman's Bureau, established in 1865-1872, and operated by the War Department. This agency was created by Congress to assist for one year in the transition from slavery to freedom in the South. An interesting section links to historical documents from the Pennsylvania Freedmen's Relief Association. These documents ask to receive funds to hire teachers to educate the freedmen. General O. Howard, a Civil War hero in charge of the bureau was sympathetic to blacks. He did not see the Southern white hostility towards the freedmen.

  • Topic: Freedmen
  • Language: English
  • URL: http://www.pbs.org

"The war of the Rebellion settled only one question:  It forever settled the question of chattal slavery* in this country."
*Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime, whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction. Art. XIII. Sec. 1. of the Constitution. 

Available in the NHS Library

"All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State in which they reside. No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property without due process of law, nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws"

Destiny Catalog Selected Websites

Destiny Catalog Selected Websites



Jim Crow Laws
After the Civil War, many laws passed by Southern states that segregated black people and discriminated against them were referred to as the Jim Crow Laws. You can read who Jim Crow was. Legalized segregation began in the late 19th century when the Supreme Court heard a few cases, including Plessy v. Ferguson, and ruled that segregation was constitutional. About 25 years later, the effectiveness of these laws was diminishing, and slowly, over the course of about 50 years, more law cases were tried that gave black people the rights that they deserved.



Remembering Jim Crow
Though it's hard for children today to imagine a nation where black and whites were not allowed to eat in the same restaurants or ride in the same train car, Jim Crow helps keep those memories alive through numerous audio interviews, transcripts, and slideshows. This truly outstanding resource contains a wealth of information about life during segregation, examining the coping techniques African Americans employed to make life bearable at a time when they often faced terrible treatment, and even death, at the hands of whites. The Resources section includes the hour-long documentary originally broadcast on National Public Radio.

African Americans--Segregation English


John Brown: The Abolitionist and His Legacy
Abolitionist John Brown was a man with a plan. According to his daughter, Anne, Brown's family knew of the plan for years. When the plan was implemented, it took the form of an attack on the federal arsenal at Harpers Ferry, Virginia. The Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History created an online exhibit of highlights from an exhibition at the New York Historical Society about the man whom Abraham Lincoln regarded as a fanatic and others saw as a martyr. Primary Sources include a transcript of the brief speech John Brown delivered in court just prior to receiving his sentence.

Brown, John,--1800-1859, Harpers Ferry (W. Va)--History--John Brown's Raid, 1859  


Progressive Era Reform
There is a long history of reform in the United States. Many different groups worked to end corruption and improve safety standards in America. Even president Theodora Roosevelt made contributions to this movement. Adding amendments to the United States Constitution is one of the results of the Progressive movement in the early 1900's. In fact, four Amendments were added to the Constitution. This Web site provides information on seven areas of reform during the Progressive era: Social Reformers, Muckrakers, City Reforms, State Reforms, Federal Reforms, and New Amendments.

Social reformers, Progressivism (United States politics) English

http://www.regentsprep.org From this site go to Civil Rights

Civil Rights: Voices of a Movement Sound Recordings
Imaging walking into a restaurant in the South that provided separate entrances, separate dining rooms and separate bathrooms for black and white customers? Find out more by listening to the voices from the heart of the Civil Rights revolution. These attention-grabbing audio clips speak about the legal system in the American South, Jim Crow laws, programs to mend the deep racial and ethnic divisions, Thurgood Marshall, Freedom Summer, An Imperfect Revolution and the remarkable last march of Martin Luther King Jr. before his assassinated on April 4, 1968. Classroom materials are included in each of these audio clips.

Civil rights movements--History--20th century English



Academic Onefile contains 8,000 academic journals, the majority in full-text, available in HTML and PDF formats. In addition it contains hundreds of podcasts and transcripts from NPR, CNN, and the CBC, as well as full-text New York Times content from 1985.

* Denotes resource funded by the Massachusetts Library System.

This site provides information using PDF, visit this link to download the Adobe Acrobat Reader DC software.