Legislating Jim Crow
In the hundred years that took this country from Reconstruction to the civil rights movement, more than 400 Jim Crow state laws, state constitutional amendments, and city ordinances were passed.* This legislation not only sanctioned racism, it erased the progress that was made right after the Civil War. Here we provide a small sampling of those 400-plus laws, grouped by topic. †
Florida: The schools for white children and the schools for negro children shall be conducted separately.
Mississippi: Separate schools shall be maintained for the children of the white and colored races.
New Mexico: Separate rooms shall be provided for the teaching of pupils of African descent, and such pupils may not be admitted to the school rooms occupied and used by pupils of Caucasian or other descent.
North Carolina: School textbooks shall not be interchangeable between the white and colored schools, but shall continue to be used by the race first using them.
Alabama: It shall be unlawful to conduct a restaurant or other place for the serving of food in the city, at which white and colored people are served in the same room, unless such white and colored persons are effectually separated by a solid partition extending from the floor upward to a distance of seven feet or higher, and unless a separate entrance from the street is provided.
It shall be unlawful for a negro and white person to play together or in company with each other at any game of pool or billiards.
Georgia: It shall be unlawful for any amateur white baseball team to play on any vacant lot or baseball diamond within two blocks of a playground devoted to the Negro race, and it shall be unlawful for any amateur colored baseball team to play baseball within two blocks of any playground devoted to the white race.
All persons licensed to conduct the business of selling beer or wine ... shall serve either white people exclusively or colored people exclusively and shall not sell to the two races within the same room at any time.
Louisiana: All circuses, shows, and tent exhibitions, to which the attendance of more than one race is invited shall provide not less than two ticket offices and not less than two entrances.
Virginia: Any public hall, theatre, opera house, motion picture show or place of public entertainment which is attended by both white and colored persons shall separate the white race and the colored race.
Freedom of Speech
Mississippi: Any person guilty of printing, publishing or circulating matter urging or presenting arguments in favor of social equality or of intermarriage between whites and negroes, shall be guilty of a misdemeanor.
Alabama: No person or corporation shall require any white female nurse to nurse in wards or rooms in hospitals, either public or private, in which negro men are placed.
Louisiana: The board of trustees shall maintain a separate building, on separate grounds, for the admission, care, instruction, and support of all blind persons of the colored or black race.
Louisiana: Any person ... who shall rent any part of any such building to a negro person or a negro family when such building is already in whole or in part in occupancy by a white person or white family shall be guilty of a misdemeanor.
Mississippi: The prison warden shall see that the white convicts shall have separate apartments for both eating and sleeping from the negro convicts.
Texas: Negroes are to be served through a separate branch or branches of the county free library, which shall be administered by a custodian of the negro race under the supervision of the county librarian.
North Carolina: The state librarian is directed to fit up and maintain a separate place for the use of the colored people who may come to the library for the purpose of reading books or periodicals.
Arizona: The marriage of a person of Caucasian blood with a Negro shall be null and void.
Florida: All marriages between a white person and a negro, or between a white person and a person of negro descent to the fourth generation inclusive, are hereby forever prohibited.
Any negro man and white woman, or any white man and negro woman, who are not married to each other, who habitually live in and occupy in the nighttime the same room, shall each be punished by imprisonment not exceeding 12 months, or by fine not exceeding $500.
Maryland: All marriages between a white person and a negro, or between a white person and a person of negro descent, to the third generation, inclusive ... are forever prohibited, and shall be void.
Wyoming: All marriages of white persons with Negroes, Mulattos, Mongolians, or Malaya hereafter contracted in the State of Wyoming are, and shall be, illegal and void.
Georgia: No colored barber shall serve as a barber to white women or girls.
The officer in charge shall not bury, or allow to be buried, any colored persons upon ground set apart or used for the burial of white persons.
Alabama: All passenger stations in this state operated by any motor transportation company shall have separate waiting rooms or space and separate ticket windows for the white and colored races.
The conductor of each passenger train is authorized and required to assign each passenger to the car or the division of the car, when it is divided by a partition, designated for the race to which such passenger belongs.
Maryland: All railroad companies are hereby required to provide separate cars or coaches for the travel and transportation of the white and colored passengers.
Alabama: Every employer of white or negro males shall provide for such white or negro males reasonably accessible and separate toilet facilities.
Oklahoma: The baths and lockers for the negroes shall be separate from the white race, but may be in the same building. (Mining companies)
*Source: "Jim Crow Legislation Overview," by Susan Falck.
†Source: "Remembering Jim Crow," a Web site based on the documentary (of the same name) by Stephen Smith, Kate Ellis, and Sasha Aslanian.