Race Relations In America Essay
(The term Jim Crow originated from the name of a character in an 1832 minstrel show, where whites performed in black face.) Passage by Congress of the Civil Rights Act of 1875, which barred racial discrimination in public accommodations, provides evidence of the continued presence of segregation and the need to rectify it.
The law lasted until 1883, when the Supreme Court of the United States declared the statute unconstitutional for regulating what the justices considered private companies, such as streetcars and entertainment facilities.
During the era of slavery, most African Americans resided in the South, mainly in rural areas.Under these circumstances, segregation did not prove necessary as the boundaries between free citizens and people held in bondage remained clear.Furthermore, blacks and whites lived in close proximity on farms and plantations and geographical isolation made contact between neighbors infrequent.Yet the possibilities of blacks sharing public conveyances and public accommodations with whites increased during the period after 1865.Blacks obtained access to streetcars and railroads on an integrated basis. In addition to these enduring concepts, Souls offers an assessment of the progress of the race, the obstacles to that progress, and the possibilities for future progress as the nation entered the twentieth century. In this work Du Bois proposes that "the problem of the Twentieth Century is the problem of the color-line." His concepts of life behind the veil of race and the resulting "double-consciousness, this sense of always looking at one's self through the eyes of others," have become touchstones for thinking about race in America.He argues that "the study of Negro religion is not only a vital part of the history of the Negro in America, but no uninteresting part of American history." He goes on to examine the impact of slavery on morality.In the last chapters of his book, Du Bois concentrates on how racial prejudice impacts individuals.By this time, the interracial Reconstruction governments had fallen in the South and the federal government had retreated from strong enforcement of black civil rights.With white-controlled governments back in power, the situation of southern blacks gradually deteriorated.