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South circa 1900 - Essay Example

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How “new” the New South was at the dawn of the new century Before arguing how the New South was at the dawn of new century, it would be necessary to state the backdrop of this new development to fully appreciate Ayers perspective on the “New South”…
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South circa 1900
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Download file to see previous pages While slavery ended at the end of the century, segregation came in the dawn of the new century with the passage of the Segregation Law in 1880. The southern states, particularly Tennessee first passed the segregation law prohibiting the mingling of races in all public places particularly in public transportation. Another law was also passed which is the Disenfranchisement Law that deprived Afro Americans of their right to vote. The passage of the segregation law and disenfranchisement law meant the white and the black cannot be together on public places and public transportation. These oppressive laws were then implemented in various states and municipality mandating the segregation of the blacks and the whites not only on public transportation but also in other aspects of public life that include, schools, hospitals, parks, movie houses, hotels and even restrooms. Even courtrooms which are supposed to dispense justice were not spared as it was required to have separate bibles for a black and white witness. The separation of books was not only limited in theological scriptures but also on schoolbooks where the textbooks of the white and black students were stored in different warehouses. The famous anecdote about Rosa Parks not giving up her seat to a white passenger sprung up from the segregation law where a black person has to give up his or her seat to a white person (blacks and white in the early phase of the segregation law cannot be together in public transportation). The Disfranchisement Law as the name implies, remove the right of the Negro to exercise his civil liberty to vote by despite the guarantee of the Fourteenth and Fifteenth Amendments. This was evident with the exclusion of the blacks from the list of those who can vote in 1870 and made it more difficult for blacks to vote (if they can) by passing the poll tax law. Ridiculous as it may sound but a literacy requirement was also enacted in 1890 that if a black person is allowed to vote, he or she must satisfy the “understanding clause” that they understood the constitution before the state registrar. Naturally, the determination of the black person’s fitness to vote became arbitrary that deprived many of them of their right to vote. Voting restrictions were also imposed to make it difficult for black people by stating deadlines of poll tax payment and voter registration unannounced. All of these were designed to make it difficult, if not impossible for a black person to vote. Many scholars, including Ayers are seeking the answer why was the law passed and many scholars contended that American society was not yet ready to accept the Negro as equals in all dimension of life that it was too radical an idea for a race that was once a slave to become an equal. Such, the separation between the two races, where the white can again impose its superiority among the blacks had to be imposed through the creation and passage of segregation and disenfranchisement law. Ayers however argued that while to some extent this could be true, there are several factors that led to the passage of these laws that shaped the socio-economic status of Afro-Americans in the 19th century. Ayers contended that the Jim Crow law was a result of various forces that include political, class, and psychological issues that was a byproduct of America’s industrialization. It could also be taken as an attempt to put the Negro in the south in his or her “ ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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