In the late 1870s, to attempt to soften the relations between the North and South, most white politicians stopped protecting African Americans. State governments passed laws requiring that whites and “persons of color” were separated in public places of transportation and schools. This included anyone who was found or even suspected to have any degree of black ancestry. Segregation soon spread to parks, cemeteries, theatres, and restaurants in an effort to prevent any association between whites and blacks. The laws impacted the African American population dramatically. On top of not being allowed to associate with whites, they were bullied and even tortured by whites. For example, on June 7, 1892, a lightly-colored man by the name of Homer Plessy, bought a first-class ticket to Covington, and boarded the train. After they pulled away from the station, the conductor inquired of Plessy if he was a colored man. Without hesitation Plessy confessed and was commanded to move to the colored car. Homer refused saying, “‘I am an American citizen. I have paid for a first-class ticket and intend to ride to Covington in the first-class car”‘(Urofsky). The conductor stopped the train and Plessy was forcefully arrested by a detective and a few white passengers. After spending a night in jail, Plessy appeared in court before Judge John Ferguson to answer charges of violating the Separate Car Act. This law is stated as follows: “All railroads carrying passengers in the state (other than street railroads) shall provide equal but separate accommodations for the white and colored races, by providing two or more passenger cars for each passenger train, or by dividing the cars by a partition, so as to secure separate accommodations.”(Tennessee, 1891) In addition to Homer, thousands of african-americans were targeted. The men didn’t have the same jobs or working conditions, and had less pay. This was devastating to the african-american population as lynchings, as acts of terror were used to purge their hope. Eventually, after Martin Luther King and his civil-rights movement and segregation was illegalized, the Jim Crow Laws were abolished. In Harper Lee’s, To Kill a Mockingbird, the protagonist Scout’s father’s purpose is to defend a black man accused of sexually assaulting a white woman. This is much like Homer Plessy’s attorneys and lawyers who defended him and tried to convince the federal government that the separate car law was unconstitutional.
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