“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.” This selection is an example of a Jim Crow law that was effective in the state of Alabama from the late 19th century to the early 20th century.
Jim Crow laws functioned to keep black and white people separated, particularly in social settings and social institutions such as marriage. The states and cities were allowed to punish people who went against these laws.
More Jim Crow Laws
These hateful laws worked to enforce segregation amongst the races, which ultimately led to civil rights actions starting in the 1950s, led by individuals such as Martin Luther King Jr. and Rosa Parks.
Examples of laws that caused these extreme tensions in the country included the following:
- Marriage – “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.” (Florida law)
- Marriage – “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.” (Wyoming law)
- Hospitalization – “The Board of Control shall see that proper and distinct apartments are arranged for said patients [in a mental hospital], so that in no cases shall Negroes and white persons be together.” (Georgia law)
- Nursing – “No person or corporation shall require any white female nurse to nurse in wards or rooms or hospitals, either public or private, where negro men are placed.” (Alabama law)
- Barbering – “No colored person shall serve as a barber [to] white women or girls.” (Georgia law)
- Toilets – “Every employer of white or negro males shall provide for such white or negro males reasonably accessible and separate toilet facilities.” (Alabama law)
- Buses – “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.” (Alabama law)
- Restaurants – “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 for each compartment.” (Alabama law)
- Beer and Wine – “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 two races within the same room at any time.” (Georgia law)
- Amateur Baseball – “It shall be unlawful for any amateur white baseball team to play baseball 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 in any vacant lot or baseball diamond within two blocks of any playground devoted to the white race.” (Georgia law)
- Burial – “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.” (Georgia law)
- Libraries – “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.” (North Carolina law)
- Teaching – “Any instructor who shall teach in any school, college or institution where members of the white and colored races are received and enrolled as pupils for instruction shall be deemed guilty of a misdemeanor, and upon conviction thereof, shall be fined…” (Oklahoma law)
- Schools – “Separate rooms [shall] be provided for the teaching of pupils of African descent, and [when] said rooms are provided, such pupils may not be admitted to the school rooms occupied and used by pupils of Caucasian or other descent.” (New Mexico law)
- Schools – “[The County Board of Education] shall provide schools of two kinds; those for white children and those for colored children.” (Texas law)
- Prison – “The warden shall see that the white convicts shall have separate apartments for both eating and sleeping from the negro convicts.” (Mississippi law)
From schools and hospitals to prisons and pool halls, the Jim Crow laws sought to keep whites and blacks separate in various domains.
Reasons for Jim Crow
After the end of the Civil War and slavery, some white people felt threatened. Therefore, they made it their mission to keep black people separated from them and to continue to treat them as though they were second class citizens.
These Jim Crow laws often disguised their cruelness by claiming to provide “separate but equal” facilities to both white and black people. However, this was a falsehood. The black schools, libraries, etc. were often in poorer condition than the white facilities.
Ultimately, these laws were banished, and integration became a true reality for all.