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Oppression in the South

Natasha Cribbs

Dr. Sunni Thibodeau

United States Hisotry Since 1876

29 August, 2013

Oppression in the South

            The South has often been known for some discriminatory ways. During the 1800’s, this was a fairly apparent matter, though it was not just a southern related issue of course. In the late 1800’s is when there were many tides of political changes and reconstruction. In this time there some obvious clashes with the African American’s and poor from the richer white inhabitants. Even more so with the African Americans. Segregation was heavy and very unequal. Besides the usual different treatment, it was also quite obvious in the crop-lien system, tenant farming, and the Jim Crow Laws.

The Crop-Lien system and tenant farming go fairly hand in hand and is only a couple of the many ways that separated the classes of people. Tenant farming is where a tenant stays on the land of the landlord as well as works on the farm. For many people the conditions were not very good or much higher than that of near slavery. Much of the pay is low and the work is hard. Then comes the crop-lien system. This system is used by farmers and shop keepers as credit for supplies. Of course shop keepers were not always honest and used manipulation to keep the farmers in debt. This in turn continued to stir the obvious issues and class suppressions in the South.

Tenant farming and the crop-lien system are small to the upcoming Jim Crow Laws. It was just about to escalate. The Jim Crow Laws were a huge hit to the oppression of African Americans. The Laws were put into effect after the Plessy v. Ferguson case. Discrimination is already apparent at this time. When politics are added, the stakes get higher. “Pro-segregation politicians gave eloquent speeches on the great danger of integration: the mongrelization of the white race. Newspaper and magazine writers routinely referred to blacks as niggers, coons, and darkies; and worse, their articles reinforced anti-black stereotypes.” (Pilgrim, Dr. David, 2000).

Discrimination was not just set to one area of life like politics and news, however. Racism was growing and was spreading to all parts of life. The Jim Crow Laws separated the equality on so many simple and basic levels. Basically, the laws stood for the power of white men. African Americans were shown to be utterly unequal to the white community. The Jim Crow Laws prohibited pretty much anything that may have offended a white person. This included not eating together, not shaking hands, not offering cigarettes or doing anything remotely intimate, the necessity of sitting in the back of vehicles (white people were up front), doing anything against a white person, and more. All aspects of life were affected by these laws.

What is worse, is that life was also beginning to take a very aggressive turn due to all of the discrimination and oppression. “The Jim Crow laws and system of etiquette were undergirded by violence, real and threatened. Blacks who violated Jim Crow norms, for example, drinking from the white water fountain or trying to vote, risked their homes, their jobs, even their lives.” (Pilgrim, Dr. David, 2000). Whites had potentially full power over blacks. They could beat them horribly if the need arose and not get into any trouble. Lynching was also something that appeared very often as well as some riots.

The late 1800’s were a time of change. Not all of the change was towards the good, however. Times were not easy for everyone, like the poor and the African Americans. Discrimination was just beginning to rear its head and create harsher times for those involved. The lives of tenants were only a single area of class oppression and was somewhat shadowed by the intensity of the Jim Crow Laws. The oppression in the South at this time was beginning to get heavier, but of course would not last forever.

Work Cited

Pilgrim, Dr. David, “What Was Jim Crow?” What Was Jim Crow. N.p., Sept. 2000. Web. 29         Aug. 2013.


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