Who was JIM CROW?

We’ve been hearing the term “Jim Crow” a lot lately. Jim Crow this, Jim Crow that. Here a Crow, there a Crow, everywhere a Jim Crow.

President Biden said that a voting law passed in Georgia was like ‘Jim Eagle’. Eagles are bigger than Crows, get it? Others have used terms like Jim Crow 2.0 or Jim Crow on steroids.

Some of the less informed among us have heard the name Jim Crow and maybe knew the significance of the name at one time, but have long since forgotten the true meaning and origin of the term. Fear not. This vocab briefing will bring you up to speed and thereafter you may consider yourself cool again and be ready for any Jeopardy questions on the subject.

The name “Jim Crow” comes from a fictional character portrayed in a minstrel show and earlier from black slave folklore about a witty black trickster. The Jim Crow stage character was portrayed by Thomas Rice, a white man in black face, in his theater act in the 1820s and 1830s. The act was a negative, satirical, unsympathetic portrayal of black slaves. Was Jim Crow a Real Person? – HISTORY

When politicians use the name “Jim Crow” they’re not talking about the theater character but about segregation laws that were enacted by Democrat-controlled local and state legislatures in southern states mainly in the 1870s. These laws came to be known as “Jim Crow Laws”. Jim Crow laws mandated segregation in most of the states formerly part of the Confederacy and were intended to limit the political and economic gains made by blacks after the Civil War. Under Jim Crow, the races were to be “separate but equal” but, as a practical matter, that was not their true effect. Jim Crow laws also included poll taxes aimed at making voting more difficult for poor people, especially poor black people.

Jim Crow laws remained in effect well into the 20th Century. In 1954, school segregation was overturned by the Supreme Court in Brown vs. Board of Education. Then, the remaining Jim Crow laws including poll taxes were overruled by the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965.

Today, Democrat politicians and even some large corporations are speaking out against a recent voting law passed in Georgia that requires some form of identification to vote and limits the time period prior to an election during which mail-in ballots can be accepted. In their view, this law is biased against black people which is why they use the term Jim Crow (or Eagle). However, the Georgia law is similar to the Jim Crow laws only in that it was enacted in Georgia (which had been part of the Confederacy), black people live in Georgia and the law involves voting. It’s quite a stretch.

So, President Biden, is the Georgia law really like “Jim Eagle”? C’mon man, it’s more like “Jim Mosquito”.


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