Unbelievable when you think about it, how North Carolina maintained its segregated and discriminatory racial system for such a long time. The remnants of what is commonly called “Jim Crow” are still with us, a daily reminder of the horrors of the past.

A new book, “Jim Crow in North Carolina: The Legislative Program from 1865 to 1920,” by Richard A. Paschal helps us understand the impact of Jim Crow on North Carolina. It catalogues and summarizes race-based laws passed by the General Assembly from the end of the Civil War until 1920.

Paschal, a Raleigh lawyer who holds a graduate degree in history, argues that it was not so much the laws on the books that brought about and maintained the segregated and oppressive system sometimes branded as “Jim Crow.” More important, he says, were the longstanding community standards and customs and the allocation of community resources by the dominating white power structure.

Paschal challenges the views of respected historians such as C. Vann Woodward, whose classic book, “The Strange Career of Jim Crow,” argued that, even under slavery, the two races had not been as divided as they were under the Jim Crow laws of the late 1890s and afterwards. Further, Woodward said that during Reconstruction, there was significant racial mixing in economic and political matters. The segregating of the races, he wrote, was a relative newcomer to the region.

The core of Paschal’s book is his lists of laws passed by the N.C. General Assembly from 1865 through 1920. The lists include numerous laws passed before the 1890s that restricted blacks or discriminated against them.

While having separate schools for blacks and whites was not controversial in the time after the Civil War, unequal funding was a continuing blight. For instance, local communities had the power and responsibility for establishing and funding schools, supposedly on an equal basis. But one method approved by the legislature provided that the white schools would be funded by taxes on white people and black schools would be funded by taxes on “colored persons.” In 1885 the N. C. Supreme Court recognized the discrimination and struck down the plan.

Paschal asserts that many of the Jim Crow restrictions and much of the subjugation of blacks were not solely “de jure,” that is, mandated by specific laws. Much of Jim Crow came about without specific legislation.

Even the most blatant result of the 1898 and 1900 white supremacy campaigns, the disenfranchisement of blacks, was accomplished by implementation of a literacy requirement for voting. Paschal points out that a significant number of blacks were literate. The law permitted literate blacks to vote. But in its implementation, even the most literate blacks failed the tests imposed by community voting officials who were, of course, all white.

With respect to jury participation by blacks, Paschal found no racial restrictions in the law, but blacks rarely were allowed to serve. “The lack of African Americans in the jury box worked to the detriment of the black community and black criminal defendants for decades. The racial incitement of the white supremacy campaigns created a chasm between legal text and the application and operation of the law, as local officials tilted the playing field decisively against the state’s African American population.”

In his conclusion Paschal writes, “In order to fully understand the shadow that Jim Crow continues to cast over us today, it is necessary to know how ostensibly democratic government at all levels and in all places used law to advance white interests while disadvantaging the interests of African Americans and other minorities.”

He might have added that in too many places it is still happening.

D.G. Martin hosts “North Carolina Bookwatch” on UNC-TV.

(22) comments

mpjeep

Most of us think of Lincoln as the “Great Emancipator,” and he always stated he hated slavery.

But, almost to the end of his life, Lincoln maintained that the Constitution provided no authority for the federal government to abolish slavery in the states where it had long existed.

Anyway, during the War of Northern Aggression, Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation. He hadn’t changed his position about the underlying constitutional issue, but he justified the proclamation as a war measure, necessary to weaken the Confederacy’s ability to continue the war.

Lincoln Quotes:

*I have said a hundred times, and I have now no inclination to take it back, that I believe there is no right, and ought to be no inclination in the people of the free States to enter into the slave States, and interfere with the question of slavery at all.

*Though Lincoln argued that the founding fathers’ phrase “All men are created equal” applied to Black and white people alike, this did not mean he thought they should have the same social and political rights.

*Lincoln made his position clear. “I will say then that I am not, nor ever have been, in favor of bringing about in any way the social and political equality of the white and Black races,” he began, going on to say that he opposed Black people having the right to vote, to serve on juries, to hold office and to intermarry with whites.

For much of his career, Lincoln believed that colonization—or the idea that a majority of the African American population should leave the United States and settle in Africa. Even Thomas Jefferson saw no way that Black and white people could live together peaceably.

David Collins

This happens all over the world every day . Always a group in power that oppresses other groups . Just because they claim to be democracies matters little . More like a human nature kind of thing , preservation of the species and all that . Most laws are designed to exclude not include , not all but most of them , if you really think about it . Prohibit this and that but always with notable exceptions . At least here in the States we do not just line them up and execute . Can think of a few places where that has evolved into a national pastime . You can strive for perfection but who really knows what is swimming about in that grey matter we call a brain . Doesn’t mean we can stop trying to improve but ........

David Collins

How fortuitous you posted this article

Myrtle Beach , SC . .

The Black bikers “association , I guess with the help of the NAACP “ has filed suit against Myrtle Beach for using racist travel patterns . Supposedly it shunts bikers , during black biker week , down one way streets eliminating their ability to access certain businesses .

Now , I have been misfortunate enough to observe both bike weeks in. Myrtle Beach , due to obligations that are quite moot . Regular. Bike week , being as obnoxious as it is , is far eclipsed by the Black bike week . Seems like the majority of bike show offs and in your face confrontations occur at that time . Credit card denials are frequent and sometimes lead to a confrontational issue . Friends in the business decided to close rather than take the loss . Who among them can blame them ? But , there are those that do . They call it repatriation . You decide .

mpjeep

My wife and I were in Myrtle Beach in the early 80s, during black bike week. It was crazy wild. I talked her into leaving 5 days early and letting me buy a new set of golf clubs on the way out. True story.

noitall

Suits like this are aimed at deep pockets - a cash settlement, and nothing else. The UK require the loser to pay all costs with nuisance suits. In my judgement, black bikers do have a behavior problem. Closing is a good business decision. Anyone want to prove me wrong.?

David Collins

You know , there is such a thing as white Africans . Never hear much about them but they have feelings on these matters . They often refer to the more northern African states as the troubled areas . Always fighting and killing each other mainly over tribalism and religion . Not being critical , for it works for them , just saying . It does have a familia ring to it though .

David Collins

Replace familia with familiar , this quick fill thing does have it’s limits .

mpjeep

From Jim Crow and the KKK in 1865, to Daughters of the Confederacy in 1894, to the Black Panthers in 1966, to BLM in 2013, the issues of monuments and their removal have been around for some time, but really brought to the forefront in 2020. As Paschal writes, racial incitement is brought about by past laws,

but it could include Statues as another form of white supremacy campaigns.

Statues do represent our country’s history and taking them down is potentially forgetting history and doesn’t change our heritage. By removing these statues, we open the door to the removal of any that some feel problematic. Where do we draw the line?

This year, some statues of George Washington and Thomas Jefferson, among others, were toppled due to their ties to slavery. Washington led the army to victory over the British and was our first president. Jefferson was the author of the Declaration of Independence and the third president. Should we not honor the contributions of Washington and Jefferson? Many folks, during those times owned slaves, but both Washington and Jefferson were critical to the formation of this country. Does the good outweigh the bad?

Martin Luther King Jr. was an American christian minister and activist who became the most visible spokesperson and leader in the civil rights movement. News sources say sealed FBI tapes and documents allege Martin Luther King Jr. had affairs with 40 women and watched and laughed while a friend raped a woman. Memos and books from close friends of Kings say he was an adulterer, engaged in orgies and solicitation of prostitutes. What about his statues and the many roads named after him in most US cities? Does the good outweigh the bad?

Statues do not cause racism, people do. Just like guns and cars don’t kill people, with the exception of the Ford Pinto and Chevrolet Corvair.

JusticeForAll

It is not the 1800's, nor the 1960's, but it seems some are still stirring the pot. Time to update and correct as much as we can.

mpjeep

There is a reason we study history. ...

(Edited by staff.)

David Collins

Correct what ? Different ethnicities think and act differently . Sometimes they are compatible , sometimes not . How ya gonna correct that ? To your standards , perhaps ? That is why we have different nations . The trick is finding one that fits you and your needs . Plenty of them out there bud and a silver bird flies pretty much to each and all . The knock is , do they really want you ? Most will not put up with the things we do here . Head on a pole and all that .

JusticeForAll

We also repeat the same misinformation to perpetuate the problems. Case and point...the responses on this thread.

mpjeep

A yawn

mpjeep

It's called freedom of speech and expression.

David Collins

What disinformation , not slogans or feel good stuff . Different strokes for different folks as per the old 60s protest song performed by , heck who remembers or cares but still true .

noitall

Jim Crow is leaving or already gone. Blacks are not slaves and I never owned any. What else is there to argue about. As one who is Pawnee by act of congress, I am more concerned about our F**BI

mpjeep

I too, have Major concerns with the FBI. Dangerous group and have been for a very long time. Nothing we can do about it.

mpjeep

Very interesting…..so are you part of the Indian Trade and Intercourse Act or Non-Intercourse Act?

noitall

The Pawnee have rules. I must have 100% Pawnee blood line to get in. My 1/4 is not enough to qualify. Is this some kind of Jim Crow in reverse?? The problem is the tribe will disappear because 100% in the long term will eliminate everyone. So there goes my casino.....

(Edited by staff.)

David Collins

Today’s reading of the latest Economist magazine included an article on Cuba . Cuba , the people’s workers paradise . It was noted that black Cubans are segregated to the most decrepit parts of Havana . Seeing how Cuba is pretty much decrepit as it is , conditions must be indeed horrific . Cuba is not unique for in my travels about the Bahamas and the Carabean

David Collins

Caribbean , similar racial practices are practiced to a greater or lesser degree . Seems to be a world wide phenomenon , not limited to Jim Crow at all . Imagine that !

mpjeep

Funny you say that….I had a job interview in 1999 in Hawaii. During the interview, I was told by the HR Director, that white folks are discriminated against by the locals and have to live in a particular area of the island.

I was also told that white kids had a very difficult time in schools due to discrimination. I had 2 kids at that time. Would have never thought it. As it turned out, I didn’t get the job.

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