Segregation and Discrimination in the United States During the 1800s

Segregation and Discrimination in the United States During the 1800s

This article examines the challenges that African Americans faced in the United States during the 1800s, a time of great transformation and social change. Despite

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Slide1Segregation and DiscriminationThe Main Idea The United States in the 1800s was a place of great change— and a place in need of even greater change.   Reading Focus • What kinds of legalized discrimination did African Americans endure after Reconstruction? • What informal discrimination did African Americans face? • Who were the most prominent black leaders of the period, and how did their views differ? • In what ways did others suffer discrimination in the late 1800s?

Slide2Legalized DiscriminationRestricting the vote • Once white Democrats had regained control over their state legislatures, they passed  poll tax  and literacy requirements to prevent African Americans from voting. • Most African Americans were too poor to afford the poll tax, and many had been denied the education needed to pass the literacy test. • Some poor or illiterate white men could not meet the requirements, but they were given a  grandfather clause allowing them to vote. Legalized segregation • Designed to create and enforce segregation,  Jim Crow laws  were passed in the South. • African Americans filed lawsuits, wanting equal treatment under the Civil Rights Act of 1875. • In 1883, the Court ruled the Act to be unconstitutional, determining the 14 th Amendment applied only to state governments. • Congress had no power over private individuals or businesses.

Slide3Plessy v.  Ferguson • Thirteen years later, another key case came before the Supreme Court. The matter involved a Louisiana state law requiring railroads to provide “equal but separate accommodations for the white and colored races.” • Homer Plessy sat in a whites-only train compartment to test the law and was arrested. He appealed based on the 14 th Amendment. • In  Plessy  v.  Ferguson  (1896) the court upheld the practice of segregation, with only Justice John Marshall Harlan dissenting. • The Court ruled that “separate but equal” facilities did not violate the Fourteenth Amendment. The  Plessy  decision allowed legalized segregation for nearly sixty years.

Slide4Informal DiscriminationIf an African American failed to speak respectfully or acted with too much pride or defiance, the consequences could be serious. The worst consequence was  lynching , the murder of an individual usually by hanging, without a legal trial. Between 1882 and 1892, nearly 900 lost their lives to lynch mobs. Lynchings declined after 1892, but continued into the early 1900s. Racial etiquette Strict rules of behavior, called  racial etiquette , governed social and business interactions. African Americans were supposed to “know their place” and defer to whites in every encounter. Lynching

Slide5Prominent Black LeadersWith the turn of the century, two different approaches emerged for improving the lives of African Americans. Born into slavery,  Booker T. Washington  believed that African Americans should accept segregation for the moment. Farming and vocational skills were the key to prosperity, and he founded the Tuskegee Institute to teach practical skills for self-sufficiency. W.E.B. Du Bois , a Harvard-trained professor, believed in speaking out against prejudice and striving for full rights immediately. African Americans should be uplifted through the “talented tenth,” their best educated leaders. Du Bois launched the Niagara Movement to protest discrimination in 1905. Later, he helped found the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People ( NAACP ).

Slide6Others Suffer DiscriminationChinese and Japanese Americans had to live in segregated neighborhoods and attend separate schools. Housing was difficult, because most house owners did not want Chinese tenants. Several states also forbade marriage with whites. Mexican Americans They encountered hostility from white Americans, often not speaking English well and taking the most menial jobs for little pay.  Debt peonage  tied many of them to their jobs until they could pay off debts they owed their employer. Asian Americans Native Americans faced continuous government efforts to stamp out their traditional ways of life. Children were sent away from their parents to be “Americanized.” Reservation life held little opportunity for economic advancement. Native Americans

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