What Is The Jim Crow Era

520 Words3 Pages
The U.S. Supreme Court encountered various difficulties in trying to overthrow Jim Crow. After the infamous Plessy v. Ferguson (1896) decision, it makes things difficult for the court to overturn its “separate, but equal” ruling. Heading into the 20th Century, Black civil rights in America, particularly in the South were met with swift opposition. It was in large part due to the Supreme Court ruling that gave those states the power to enforce discriminatory legislation. In Robert J. Cottrol book, “Brown v. Board of Education: Caste, Culture, and the Constitution”, he described the Jim Crow era as it dealt with public education. The problem with the Supreme Court was the inconsistency in their decisions following the 1896 ruling. In the first…show more content…
Commonwealth of Kentucky (1908) gave power to states to segregate institutions. The Supreme Court acknowledges that Kentucky could prohibit having both Black and White students because the College was an institution (Cottrol 42-43). In the same way, they did concede had an individual sued, Kentucky’s law likely was illegal. But, here lies the problem with the Supreme Court, they were not consistent or used very specific language in their rulings. The National Association for the Advancement of Color People (NAACP) was formed in 1909 to fight for the civil rights for African-Americans. As an organization, they had a strategy to fight against racial injustices, but it was difficult to advance with their plan. Racial attitudes in the country with eugenics and the media portrayal of African Americans led to delayed progress (Cottrol…show more content…
For instance, Felix Frankfurter a Supreme Court Justice was a conservative whose language was difficult to comprehend. In the Brown II decision, he wrote that desegregation should be done with “due deliberate speed” (Hoffer 2017). What does that even mean? Given the U.S. Supreme Court problem with overthrowing Jim Crow, it did manage to resolve those difficulties. The NAACP Legal Defense Fund played a huge role in getting the U.S. Supreme Court to overthrow various aspects of Jim Crow. For example, the brilliant attorney Charles Hamilton Houston and the NAACP tried numerous cases in the Supreme Court that forced the Court to recognize that “separate, but equal” was hardly the case in public education. In the Missouri ex rel. Gaines v. Canada (1938), a six to two decision, the Supreme Court declared that Blacks can be admitted to White institutions if they were was not a school for Blacks (Cotroll 64-65). Though, it was a victory, it represented a small crack against the Plessy ruling. In future court cases such as Brown I, and the Painter case, the Supreme Court began to rule against separate educational institutions (Hoffer 2017). Slowly, but surely the “separate, but equal” clause could not be defended any longer, as the Supreme Court decisions opposed their infamous past ruling. It helped too, that eugenics and Social Darwinism began to hold less influence in the
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