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How Jim Crow Saved the American Economy | Medium

Read Time 3 min.

How Jim Crow Saved the American Economy | Medium

Reinventing slavery helped America recover from the long depression

William Spivey, Medium

In the teaching of economics, to measure the effect of changes to the economy, you introduce one new factor and assume all other things stay the same. Multiple factors come into play in real life, and seemingly unrelated things cause ripples through the economy. After the enslavement of Black people ended in 1865, the American economy grew substantially in the north due to increased industrialization. There was initial turmoil with the theoretical loss of enslaved people in the south, but in reality, southern legislators enacted the Black Codes.

The Black Codes reimplemented slavery as best they could under the law. Mississippi and South Carolina issued the first Black Codes. In Mississippi, former slaves were required to show proof of employment each January. Suppose they left their employment before the end of the year. They would forfeit their wages and become subject to arrest. In South Carolina, if Black people worked in any other occupation besides farmer or servant, they were subject to an annual tax. Failure to pay would lead to forced servitude on a plantation. Black people were unable to own guns and knives.


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Jim Crow laws

Jim Crow laws were state and local laws that enforced racial segregation in the Southern United States. These laws were enacted in the late 19th and early 20th centuries by white Southern Democrat-dominated state legislatures to disenfranchise and remove political and economic gains made by black people during the Reconstruction period. The Jim Crow laws were enforced until 1965.

In practice, Jim Crow laws mandated racial segregation in all public facilities in the states of the former Confederate States of America and in some others, beginning in the 1870s. Jim Crow laws were upheld in 1896 in the case of Plessy vs. Ferguson, in which the U.S. Supreme Court laid out its “separate but equal” legal doctrine for facilities for African Americans. Moreover, public education had essentially been segregated since its establishment in most of the South after the Civil War in 1861–65.

The legal principle of “separate but equal” racial segregation was extended to public facilities and transportation, including the coaches of interstate trains and buses. Facilities for African Americans were consistently inferior and underfunded compared to facilities for white Americans; sometimes, there were no facilities for the black community. As a body of law, Jim Crow institutionalized economic, educational, and social disadvantages for African Americans living in the South.

Jim Crow laws and Jim Crow state constitutional provisions mandated the segregation of public schools, public places, and public transportation, and the segregation of restrooms, restaurants, and drinking fountains between white and black people. The U.S. military was already segregated. President Woodrow Wilson, a Southern Democrat, initiated the segregation of federal workplaces in 1913.

In 1954, segregation of public schools (state-sponsored) was declared unconstitutional by the U.S. Supreme Court under Chief Justice Earl Warren in the landmark case Brown v. Board of Education. In some states, it took many years to implement this decision, while the Warren Court continued to rule against the Jim Crow laws in other cases such as Heart of Atlanta Motel, Inc. v. United States (1964). Generally, the remaining Jim Crow laws were overruled by the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965.

Source – Jim Crow laws (Updated: 23 August 2020) Wikipedia. Available at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jim_Crow_laws, (Accessed: 01 October 2020)