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seaofknowledge eNotes educator| Certified Educator

As far as I understand the Jim Crow laws did not refer to any single federal/national law, but rather the general government policy of providing "separate but equal" facilities to African Americans. The consequence of this policy was a series of local and state laws that segregated blacks in social life and institutions such as buses, schools, etc. The entirety of these local and state laws are referred to as "Jim Crow laws." The interesting part is that even though the federal government officially ended this policy in the late 1950s, state and local governments resisted and did not implement changes. They continued to segregate blacks and this stubborn discrimination eventually resulted in the Civil Rights movements across the US and most prominently in the South states.

crystaltu001 | Student

The Jim crow laws were laws that separated African Americans from white people . The laws said that African Americans could not use the same things white people had and didn't have the privileges that they had. Everything was separate for them, they would have a separate fountain, school and anything else.

zumba96 | Student

They were statuettes enacted by Southern states that legalized segregation between Africans and whites. With the Supreme Court ruling in 1896 Plessy vs. Ferguson, they separated facilities and encouraged discriminatory laws. Parks, Schools, Bathrooms, Water Fountains and so much more was separated because of people's discrimination towards the others which caused a HUGE controversy.  

Chantelm | Student

The Jim Crow laws were legal punishments that were enforced even after African Americans were free. These laws restricted African Americans from doing a number of things for example: interracial marriage. Different facilities were segregated.

fact-finder | Student

The Jim Crow laws were legal and social restrictions that separated African Americans from white Americans during the late 1800s and early 1900s. (Jim Crow was a stereotype of an African American song-and-dance man). In 1868 the U.S. Congress (the country's law-making body) passed the Fourteenth Amendment to the Constitution, which guaranteed all Americans equal rights. In many Southern states, however, local governments and legislatures (law-making bodies) passed laws that segregated (separated) African Americans from white Americans in public places. For example, an African American was not allowed to use a whites-only drinking fountain. The U.S. Supreme Court made rulings that supported state segregation laws. The most famous was the Plessy v. Ferguson case. In 1896 the Court upheld a Louisiana law that required separate-but-equal facilities for whites and African Americans in railroad cars. For fifty years, state governments used this ruling to justify segregation in public facilities, including schools, hospitals, and restrooms.

During the 1950s and 1960s, the Supreme Court ruled that segregation is illegal, overturning the Jim Crow laws. In the case of Brown v. the Board of Education (1954), parents of African American children in the Topeka, Kansas, elementary schools argued that African American children were being denied the right to equal protection guaranteed in the Fourteenth Amendment. On May 17, 1954, the Supreme Court agreed that segregated schools denied equal protection. Thus, the Court overturned its earlier Plessy v. Ferguson ruling and outlawed segregation. In 1960 the Supreme Court again ruled against segregation laws in Boynton v. Virginia. Chief appellant (appeals) lawyer Thurgood Marshall (1908–1993) presented the case of law student Bruce Boynton, who contested segregation laws at a bus station in Richmond, Virginia. The Supreme Court ruled in favor of Boynton, sending a clear message to state governments that public facilities are for the use of all people, regardless of skin color. These rulings were an important part of the Civil Rights movement (a campaign for equal rights for African Americans that began in the South during the 1960s).

Further Information: Fireside, Harvey. Plessy vs. Ferguson: Separate But Equal? Springfield, N.J.: Enslow, 1997; Kraft, Betsy Harvey. Sensational Trials. New York: Scholastic, 1998, pp. 106–26; McLynn, Frank. Famous Trials: Cases That Made History. Pleasantville, N.Y.: Reader's Digest, 1995, pp. 36-41; NCRM Interactive Tour: Jim Crow Laws. [Online] Available http://www.midsouth., October 30, 2000; O'Neill, Charles Edwards. "Separate But Never Equal." America. April 1, 1996, pp. 13–14; Whitelaw, Nancy. Mr. Civil Rights: The Story of Thurgood Marshall. Greensboro, N.C.: Morgan Reynolds, 1995.