In the late 1800s and during the twentieth century, many events and customs came about that restricted African Americans from being equal to white people. One of these events was the Plessy vs. Ferguson case. In 1892, Homer Plessy was jailed for sitting in the “White” car of the East Louisiana Railroad. Even though he was seven-eighths white and one-eighth black, Plessy was still required to sit in the colored car. During a case that challenged the Separate Car Act, Plessy deliberately sat in the white section and identified himself as black. He was arrested and the case made its way to the United States Supreme Court. Homer’s lawyer believed that the Separate Car Act went against the Thirteenth and Fourteenth Amendments, but regardless the Supreme Court held the Louisiana segregation statute constitutional. The Plessy decisions set the precedent of the idea “separate but equal.” This was the idea that separate facilities for black and whites were constitutional as long as they were “equal.” Jim Crow laws, which also separated blacks from whites, came about from using this idea of “separate but equal.” In conclusion, this is one event that restricted African Americans from being equal to white people.
Another custom that came about was Jim Crow. The name Jim Crow is often used to describe segregation laws to separate blacks from whites. Jim Crow was also the name of a racial caste system in the South. Under the Jim Crow system, African Americans became second class citizens and anti-black racism was legitimized. Many rationalizations came about from Jim Crow such as the belief that whites were the “chosen” people, blacks were cursed to be servants, and God supported racial segregation. Jim Crow was also a character played by white people with blackened faces to make fun of blacks and show how inferior they were. Jim Crow and many other similar characters helped to popularize the belief that blacks were lazy and stupid. Some Jim Crow laws that came about from this were that there was to be intermarriage and no colored barber can serve a white woman.
The Great Depression took a great toll on the United States, especially on African Americans. African Americans faced many hardships during that span in American history. Cotton prices dropped dramatically and two- thirds of the two million black farmers lost all source of income and went into debt. Also, many sharecroppers left behind their farms in search of the cities. The economic decline was so bad whites desperately sought “negro jobs” such as busboys, elevator operators and garbage men. Because of the limited jobs, white people ambushed and killed black people so they could have those jobs. Only one group during The Depression concerned itself with black rights. This was the Communist Party. They organized interracial inions and demonstrations for relief, jobs and end evictions. Mrs. Roosevelt became aware of this mistreatment and she began to speak out publicly on this civil rights matter. As a result, federal agencies began to open their doors to get African Americans back on their feet.
A number of people fought for African American rights. One of these civil rights activists was Madame C.J. Walker, also known as