Jim Crow laws were used to enforce segregation and maintain white supremacy in the South during the 19th and 20th centuries.
Initially referred to as ‘black codes’, Jim Crow laws were introduced by Southern state legislatures in the late 1870s.
The laws called for the separation of whites from “persons of colour”. This segregation was justified by the legal doctrine of ‘separate but equal’ and soon spread to restaurants, parks and theatres.
The origins of the term, ‘Jim Crow’, can be found in the 1830s. Jim Crow was a minstrel show character who was portrayed as an elderly, crippled and clumsy slave. He epitomised all of the negative stereotypes of African Americans.
See also: Black Power
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