What conditions did African Americans in the South face in 1900?

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Contrary to the dominant interpretation of so-called "emancipation" and the thirteenth amendment, the thirteenth amendment abolished a specific form of slavery (legalized enslavement of people by non-state actors) and replaced it with mass enslavement via the state. Quite literally, directly after the end of the civil war, several former plantations...

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Contrary to the dominant interpretation of so-called "emancipation" and the thirteenth amendment, the thirteenth amendment abolished a specific form of slavery (legalized enslavement of people by non-state actors) and replaced it with mass enslavement via the state. Quite literally, directly after the end of the civil war, several former plantations were transformed into enormous prison farms, which marks the first creation of large scale prisons in the United States. These prisons became filled with thousands of black people, mostly black men, whose labor the state then sold to nearby plantation owners who were in need of workers after they lost their source of free, forced labor. This process became known as convict leasing. And while convict leasing technically began in 1846, after the civil war, the practice sky rocketed with states selling the labor of an entire prison population to plantation owners. The state generated revenue by re-enslaving black people through incarceration (bolstered by Jim Crow laws) and selling them primarily to plantation owners, railroad companies, and, later, mining companies.

Technically, the practice of convict leasing ended in 1928, but the system continues in another form. To this very day, the Angola Prison in Louisiana still exists, which is a 10,000-acre prison farm that was once a 10,000-acre slave plantation. There, mostly black prisoners are forced to work the fields under the guard of mostly armed white men on horseback. Many prisoners throughout the country are forced to work while in prison, and corporations make serious profit off paying prisoners incredibly low wages (averages of fourteen cents to one dollar an hour before deductions) that they wouldn't be able to pay non-incarcerated workers.

Not only were tens of thousands of black people re-enslaved through mass incarceration at the turn of the twentieth century, but all black people endured life under Jim Crow laws that essentially criminalized black existence and bolstered the power of racist whites to brutalize, torture, and kill black people. Lynching black folks was an incredibly common practice that was used by the state and non-state vigilantes alike to keep black people in a state of constant terror. Roughly 175 black people were lynched or burned alive in the year 1900. Racist whites would often attend these public murders to celebrate the white supremacist spectacle.

In addition to re-enslavement via mass incarceration and torture and murders, black folks also faced segregation laws that kept them in a legally inferior status anytime they were in public.

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African Americans faced very rough conditions in the South in 1900. White attitudes toward African Americans were very negative and had changed very little since the end of the Civil War. Many whites thought that African Americans were inferior. Laws known as the "Jim Crow laws" were passed to reflect this way of thinking. As a result of the “separate but equal” doctrine established in the Plessy v Ferguson Supreme Court case, African Americans were legally segregated from whites in many places, including educational settings, train cars, bathrooms, and other places of public accommodation. African American men also had a difficult time getting well-paying jobs and were often forced to work on farms as hired laborers.

Additionally, African Americans faced other obstacles. The pursuit of equal rights could not advance, and in many cases, the struggle to be seen as human was a matter of life and death—Southern whites were regularly lynching blacks with impunity. African Americans also found it difficult to vote, as poll taxes and literacy tests, instated specifically to suppress the black vote, served their purpose. Many African Americans couldn't afford to pay the taxes and/or couldn’t pass the literacy tests because they had little income and/or little to no educational training. African Americans were also threatened and intimidated by groups like the Ku Klux Klan that tried to terrorize them and committed heinous crimes against them. Life was very difficult for most African Americans in the South in 1900.

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Around the turn of the twentieth century, African Americans lived under Jim Crow laws in the South. They faced racial segregation in every category of life. For example, public places were segregated, and there were separate schools, sections of public transportation, and sections of waiting rooms and movie theaters for blacks and whites. Though these facilities were supposed to be "separate but equal," the facilities for blacks, including schools, were inferior, as far less public money was spent on paying black teachers and building black schools.

In addition, African Americans faced far fewer job prospects and were kept out of white colleges and other forms of education. For the most part, black women worked outside the home as badly paid domestics in white houses, and black men and their families worked as sharecroppers and did not, for the most part, own their own land. Black people were also largely disenfranchised and were not allowed to vote. Black people largely formed their own churches, which were areas of strength and pride and would later help support the Civil Rights movement.

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Life was extremely hard for African-Americans in the South at that time. Although slavery had long since been abolished, the substance of slavery had been reintroduced by the back door, as it were, by Southern state legislatures. After Reconstruction, they systematically built an apparatus of legalized racial prejudice and discrimination which became known as the Jim Crow laws. Under these laws, African Americans were, among other things, denied the right to vote, to hold public office, or in some cases, serve on a jury. Essentially, the most important elements of American citizenship were taken away from African Americans, one by one, simply on the basis of the color of their skin.

As a result of the Jim Crow laws, segregation also became widespread in the South at that time. Laws to keep the races apart placed severe restrictions on African Americans' freedom of movement: where they could and couldn't go, whereabouts they had to sit on a bus or at a lunch counter, even which beaches they could visit.

Formally, the provision of public services and facilities was made on the principle of "separate, but equal." This was supposed to mean that though the races would be kept apart, they were still entitled to equal standards of provision. In reality, however, that simply didn't happen, and African Americans had to make do with often vastly inferior facilities, whether it was in relation to schools, hospitals, or train compartments.

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