In 1964, the Civil Rights Act outlawed racial discrimination and segregation in schools, restaurants, hotels, and universities. Signed by President Lyndon B. Johnson, the Civil Rights Act also prohibited unequal application of voting requirements, ended discrimination in interstate commerce, barred discrimination by state and city governments, and outlawed discrimination in private companies that take federal dollars. The 1965 Voting Rights Act went a step further and outlawed numerous tactics used to disenfranchise African Americans and other groups. Officially, the era of Jim Crow had ended.
The Jim Crow laws were a major factor in the African-American Great Migration during the early part of the 20th century. Opportunities were so limited in the South that African-Americans moved in great numbers to northern cities to seek a better life.
Amateur Baseball: IT shall be unlawful for any amateur white baseball team to play baseball on any vacant lot or baseball diamond within two blocks of a playground devoted to the Negro race, and it shall be unlawful for any amateur colored baseball team to play baseball in any vacant lot or baseball diamond within two blocks of any playground devoted to the white race. (Georgia)
Cohabitation: Any Negro man and white women, or any white man and Negro woman, who are not married to each other, who shall habitually live in and occupy in the nighttime the same room shall each be punished by imprisonment not exceeding twelve (12) months, or by fine not exceeding five hundred ($500.00) dollars. (Florida)
This and the excerpt below it are both examples of Jim Crow laws. There were segregations of all kinds, and as you can see, the punishment for disobeying these segregations were severe. $500 during the 1800s would have been over $10,000 nowadays. This is also a strange law because it decrees that different races can't share a bedroom unless they are married, but this is usually a step toward marriage in the first place.
During the Jim Crow period there were separate hospitals for blacks and whites, separate prisons, separate public and private schools, separate churches, separate cemeteries, separate public restrooms, and separate public accommodations. In most instances, the black facilities were grossly inferior-older, smaller, less-well-kept, and less conveniently located. In other cases, there were no black facilities-no Colored public restroom, no public beach, and no place to sit or eat.
De jure segregation mainly applied to the southern United States. Northern segregation was generally de facto (in practice, rather than established by formal laws), with patterns of segregation in housing enforced by covenants, bank lending practices, and job discrimination, including discriminatory union practices, for decades.
In fact, separate facilities for blacks were hardly ever equal. They were inferior because segregation—the separation of people based on skin color—was based on the idea, expressed in the Supreme Court's Dred Scott decision of 1857, that blacks were "an inferior and subordinate class of beings." Despite the Civil War and emancipation, this remained the attitude of most whites and, hence, of governments. Jim Crow, taking its name from a fictional minstrel character, was the name given to America's own system of racial apartheid.
Nineteenth-century American and European scientists likewise believed in racial classification. Study after scientific study confirmed that Caucasians were superior to every other race and that, furthermore, Negroes occupied the lowest evolutionary rung. Like the impact of DNA evidence in current times, scientific data was hard to contradict.
Throughout the 1830s and '40s, the white entertainer Thomas Dartmouth Rice (1808-1860) performed a popular song-and-dance act supposedly modeled after a slave. He named the character Jim Crow. Rice darkened his face, acted like a buffoon, and spoke with an exaggerated and distorted imitation of African American Vernacular English. In his Jim Crow persona, he also sang "Negro ditties" such as "Jump Jim Crow."
An example of this stereotyped black character is Jim from Huckleberry Finn, a rather dim-witted and gullible escaped slave. It is for this reason, as well as the language, that the book is labeled racist. However, also consider that this was mainstream thinking and language at the time, and so cultural accuracy must be weighed against modern social integrity.
Many claim discriminatory laws turned Birmingham into the “most segregated city in America,” but Jim Crow did not begin in the Magic City or even the South. It started in the North before the Civil War and spread south afterwards. It reflected American values about white superiority that were more than attitude or prejudice. This was a bedrock principle as old as Plymouth Rock.
After the Civil War, African Americans were free but not equal. The Civil Rights Acts of 1866 and 1875, and the Fourteenth and Fifteenth amendments to the U.S. Constitution, were made virtual dead letters by hostile court decisions, culminating in 1896 in Plessy v. Ferguson, which gave legal sanction to the principle of "separate but equal" facilities segregated by race.