What Was the Cause for Segregation in the South?

Lemar Griffin Reconstruction April 28, 2011 Professor Eisenberg What was the cause for segregation in the south? The Day Freedom Died and When did Southern Segregation Begin are two books that cover events that happened during the Reconstruction period. Charles Lane through his political and social analysis shines an illuminating light on one of America’s more sordid events. The Colfax Massacre gained national attention so much that the event is now an interracial group that commemorates an event.

John David Smith the author of When did Southern Segregation Begin takes a straight forward approach in his book and explains multiple reasons for why this may have occurred. People often assume that segregation was a natural outcome of Reconstruction which can seem somewhat believable depending on your knowledge of the subject. But in all actuality scholars cannot agree on which events at the end of the nineteenth century mark the beginning of formalized Jim Crow. Studies show how blacks and whites learned to be civilized when they encountered each other.

The division of the two races happens soon after the end of the Civil War. This essay will attempt to analyze when southern segregation begin. Following the Civil War, Colfax, Louisiana, was a town, like many, where Negroes and whites mingled uneasily. But on April 13, 1873, a small army of white ex-Confederate soldiers, enraged after attempts by freedmen to assert their new rights, killed more than sixty Negroes who had occupied a courthouse. There were barely armed former slaves that were knifed, burned, smoked out of a courthouse, and gunned down by a white posse angry over an 1872 Republican election victory. the Ku Klux Klan declared. Its goals were “to protect the weak, innocent and defenseless,” and “to protect the constitution on the Untied States. [1] The United States passed the Thirteenth Amendment in 1865, putting an end to almost 250 years of slavery. Following the Civil War, Colfax, Louisiana, was a town like many where African Americans and whites mingled uneasily. When you look back at the events that unfolded in many towns like Colfax, Louisiana you start asking yourself: “What was the reason for all this. Throughout the year we learned more as a class why whites did horrible things to blacks, and about why Reconstruction is important to our America history. I feel that this goes back to a text we read earlier by Howard Fast in his book Freedom Road. The hypothesis that I have came up with is from a scene in Fast’s book. I believe that to some extent whites were afraid of blacks becoming independent and educated. I feel this way because I believe that money and power are two of the most important things in America, in my opinion. To gain money and power you must have the skill set to enable yourself to do so.

This comes with knowledge, meaning that you would have to be very well educated to put yourself in a position to acquire power. Having knowledge is one of the most powerful weapons you can have as a human, and the somewhat educated blacks were aware of this. I have this idea because of the fact that from taking this class I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about why slavery lasted so long and have the whites kept the blacks in control of such a long period of time without losing control of everything. That brings me to power, education, and money. Back in the day White was making a very good amount of money from slavery.

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If you look at slavery in the context I am for my hypothesis it will make more sense. I’m looking at slavery from a business aspect. If you dehumanize blacks and block out the fact that you’re hurting people, and that it is morally wrong to enslave people then you have what I call a “unethical business. ” When whites feared that blacks could learn how to read and write it would scare them because is all blacks were able to read and write then they would have the knowledge they needed to realize that with the right plan and the will power and motivation that they could free themselves from slavery.

I feel this way because from all the books we have covered in class I started to notice a pattern. It was starting to come more clearly to me after every book we finished in class. Education is important in the forthcoming of Reconstruction; the same also is true for knowledge. Changes were made by black people that were educated or people that have enough knowledge to understand the situation and see the way to fix it. Money is key factors in many choices many people in this country base their decisions off, morally and ethically.

With money come the number one thing that all counties want let alone just individuals, power. With the right person in power everything thing can be either perfect for a certain group of people, as well as with the wrong person in power everything can be horrible for a certain group of people. To sum up my hypothesis if blacks would have had the chance to become educated then the world would be a totally different place, in my opinion. This separation of blacks and whites took without a doubt took time and a lot of effort by white southerners to make sure that it all went according to plan.

This begins to happen soon after the end of the Civil War. The churches and schools were the main places and probably some of the first places to be spilt. During the time, neither place was to be segregated by law. Both places became segregated by the choice of the public. This is an early example of how the blacks separated themselves from the whites to start to own life as free people. The black communities were all against any law that would be restricting them from everyday rights and everyday conveniences that they felt they were entitled to as humans.

However, many whites also were not satisfied with the thought of Jim Crow Law. These laws were unlike the black codes which had been done away with ten years earlier. The Jim Crow laws brought segregation to public schools, public places, and public transportation. It also separated restrooms, restaurants, and drinking fountains from blacks and whites. The U. S. military was also segregated. For more than 200 years before the Civil War, slavery existed in the United States. But after the war things began to get worse for blacks.

The south thought they needed to do something. The Southern legislatures, former confederates, passed laws known as the black codes, after the war, which severely limited the rights of blacks and segregated them from whites. The south gradually reinstated the racially discriminatory laws. The two main goals they wanted these laws to achieve: disenfranchisement and segregation. To take away the power that the blacks had gained, the Democratic Party began to stop Blacks from voting. There were many ways to stop blacks from voting.

Some of these things were poll taxes, fees were charged at voting booths and were expensive for most blacks, and the literacy test. Since teaching blacks were illegal, most adult blacks were former slaves and illiterate. “A favorite ploy was to change the registration site without notifying colored voters; some registrars demanded that elderly Negros prove that they were over twenty years old, not easy for those who had no birth certificates because they were born into slavery. ”[2] This was something that was common back when the blacks would go and try to vote to make a change. Registered colored voters outnumbered whites 776 to 630 in Grant Parish. ”[3] The white were doing everything in their power to cheat and make sure that the blacks did not win anything that they had put their vote in for. Voting is a powerful tool which goes back to my hypothesis about how power is important in America. They have said that this still goes on in America the power of the votes are suppose to be in the hands of American people but sometimes the polls don’t reflect on what who really went out and cast their vote on election day.

The power to change things that normal people have no control over is something that has been going on for a long time now in America. ———————– [1] Charles Lane, The Day Freedom Died, (New York, NY: Henry Holt and Company, LCC, 2008) Pg. 3 [2] Charles Lane, The Day Freedom Died, (New York, NY: Henry Holt and Company, LCC, 2008) Pg. 65 [3] Charles Lane, The Day Freedom Died, (New York, NY: Henry Holt and Company, LCC, 2008) Pg. 66

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