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The Rise and Fall of Jim Crow A Century of Segregation
Jim Crow Stories
A National Struggle
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Jim Crow laws were explicit and often highly specific in imposing second-class citizenship on African Americans and other non-whites. Yet Jim Crow customs could be even more pervasive than laws. Black men, for example, knew that avoiding physical contact with white women was not sufficient; the mere act of making eye contact, or offering to light a cigarette, was considered anathema by whites.

Beyond the ever-volatile theme of interracial romance, blacks endured many other indignities on a daily basis: they were expected to address whites as "Mr." or "Mrs." while whites addressed blacks by their first names, "boy" or "girl," or "nigger." Depending upon the specifics and circumstances, violation of the unwritten rules could easily result in insult, beating, or lynching.

Jim Crow laws, and many of its customs, are no longer a part of American society. Many African Americans -- and members of other racial and ethnic groups -- have achieved success through opportunities their parents and grandparents could hardly have imagined.

Yet the legacy of Jim Crow is a powerful one. Despite decades of progress and equality in the eyes of the law, few would argue that ours is a truly color-blind society. The many differences between now and the Jim Crow era are striking; in some cases, so are the parallels.
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