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The Culture of Jim Crow. Lecture plan 1.How Jim Crow worked 2.Surviving Jim Crow 3.Challenging Jim Crow 4.The seeds of change.

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Presentation on theme: "The Culture of Jim Crow. Lecture plan 1.How Jim Crow worked 2.Surviving Jim Crow 3.Challenging Jim Crow 4.The seeds of change."— Presentation transcript:

1 The Culture of Jim Crow


3 Lecture plan 1.How Jim Crow worked 2.Surviving Jim Crow 3.Challenging Jim Crow 4.The seeds of change

4 1. How Jim Crow worked

5 The Culture of Jim Crow Rituals of submission: no titles, to the back of the line Representations of blacks as lazy and stupid Socialisation within black community White-imposed role models (“Good Darky” statue, 1927)

6 The Culture of Jim Crow

7 Law The Woodward thesis: the closing of alternative possibilities, southern white class politics More than 400 state laws and city ordinances mandating segregation De facto disfranchisement Scottsboro Trials (1931-1937)

8 The Scottsboro Boys "If you ever saw those creatures, those bigots whose mouths are slits in their faces, whose eyes popped out at you like frogs, whose chins dripped tobacco juice, bewhiskered and filthy, you would not ask how they could do it." Defense Attoney Samuel Liebowitz commenting on the jury verdict in Alabama v Patterson (NY Times, 4/11/33)

9 The Scottsboro Boys (and Attorney Samuel Leibowitz )

10 The Scottsboro Boys “I don’t care whether they’re innocent or guilty. They were found riding on the same freight car with white women, and that’s enough for me! It doesn’t matter to me what the women had done previously. I’m in favor of the boys being executed just as quickly as possible! You can’t understand how we Southern gentlemen feel about this question of relationships between negro men and white women.” Congressman George Huddleston, Birmingham, Ala., quoted in the NY Times, 1933

11 1882-1968: 4,743 recorded lynchings, more than 70% of them African Americans


13 Richard Wright, Black Boy (New York, 1937), p. 48 “The white brutality I had not seen was a more effective control of my behavior than that which I knew… As long as it remained something terrible and yet remote, something whose horror and blood might descend upon me at any moment, I was compelled to give my entire imagination over to it, an act which blocked the springs of thought and feeling in me…”

14 Gender and Class dimensions of Jim Crow Jim Crow associated with capitalism; black resistance also anti-capitalist? Centrality of denial of black masculinity: implications for gender roles, family structure and black society? Lead role for black women





19 2. Surviving Jim Crow

20 Joe Louis v Max Schmeling, Yankee Stadium, June 22, 1938

21 Jackie Robinson and Jesse Owens

22 Living “behind the veil” “a double consciousness… this sense of always looking at oneself through the eyes of others.” W.E.B. Du Bois “Uncle Toms” or “double agents” (Glenda Gilmore)?

23 “Racial Uplift” Public health movement Commission on Interracial Cooperation Better Schools Campaign Robert Moton, President, Tuskegee Institute Laurence C. Jones, head of Piney Woods School, Mississippi

24 Hardy School, Greneda County, Mississippi, 1955

25 “Racial Uplift” Compromise with Jim Crow— improvements in black institutions often led to greater dependence on whites OR “one step back to take two steps forward”—basic education as the foundation of the freedom struggle to come

26 3. Challenging Jim Crow

27 “Southern trees bear a strange fruit, Blood on the leaves and blood at the root, Black body swinging in the southern breeze, Strange fruit hanging from the poplar trees…” Billie Holliday, 1939

28 Anti-Lynching Campaigns Ida B. Wells-BarnettJesse Daniel Ames, Association of Southern Women for the Prevention of Lynching (1930)


30 The New Deal Depression exposed the limits of “interracial cooperation” No anti-lynching legislation CCC ran segregated camps AAA production limits hurt sharecroppers SSA excluded many black workers NRA = “Negroes rarely allowed”…

31 Black Nationalism Marcus Garvey, the “Black Moses” The UNIA, Black Star Line

32 Socialism and the African American cause The National Urban League (1920 – product of great migration) A. Phillip Randolph, the National Negro Congress (founded 1935) Response to rise of fascism, context of communist popular front, black labour unionism and creation of CIO, influenced by IWW

33 A. Phillip Randolph: “…the salvation of the negro, like the workers, can only come from within. True liberation can be aquired and maintained only when the Negro people possess power, and power is the product and flower of organization…”

34 NAACP and legal challenges to Jim Crow Charles Houston, Thurgood Marshall and the NAACP legal fund

35 Intellectual Assault on Racism Franz Boas, Columbia anthropologist, challenged notion of immutability of racial differences: culture not nature Gunnar Myrdal, An American Dilemma: The Negro Problem and Modern Democracy (1944)

36 Intellectual Assault on Racism W.E.B. Du Bois, Black Reconstruction in America (1935) Charles S. Johnson, sociologist and later President of Fisk University

37 3. The seeds of change

38 The New Deal FDR: “lynch law is murder, a deliberate and definite disobedience of the high command, ‘Thou Shalt Not Kill!’” Black New Dealers: Mary McLeod Bethune Ickes and Aubrey Williams (head of National Youth Administration) were racial progressives WPA did not formally discriminate Democratic rhetoric of New Deal

39 Legal Breakthroughs Murray v Maryland (1936) Smith v Allwight (1941)

40 Marion Anderson, Lincoln Memorial Concert, 1939

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