How did white Southerners limit the rights of blacks?

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mkoren eNotes educator| Certified Educator

After Reconstruction ended, white southerners developed many ways to limit the rights of black people. One area where rights were limited was in the area of voting. During Reconstruction, black males got the right to vote. When Reconstruction ended, southerners developed poll taxes, literacy tests, and grandfather clauses as a way to allow whites to vote while denying blacks the right to vote.

Poll taxes require people to pay a tax before voting. Since many blacks were poor because they had been slaves for many years, they were less likely to be able to pay the tax than whites. The literacy test required people to prove they could read and write before being allowed to vote. Since blacks were less likely to pass this test (due to being slaves), it denied many blacks this right. Finally, the grandfather clause exempted anybody from these requirements if their father or grandfather had voted before the Civil War. Not many black fathers or grandfathers met this requirement due to being slaves.

Another way white southerners limited the rights of blacks was by passing Jim Crow laws. These laws made segregation legal. There would be separate drinking fountains, separate sections on trains and buses, separate schools, and separate sections in theaters. As long as the facilities were equal, segregation was legal. In most instances, the facilities were not equal, yet segregation continued. Whites also threatened and intimidated blacks as a way to discourage blacks from exercising their rights or challenging the Jim Crow laws.