|The Jim Crow laws
(named after "Jump Jim Crow", a song-and-dance caricature of African
Americans) were state and local laws enacted in the Southern and border
states of the United States and enforced between 1876 and 1965. They mandated
"separate but equal" status for black Americans. In reality, this
led to treatment and accommodations that were almost always inferior to those
provided white Americans. The most important laws required that public
schools, public places and public transportation have separate buildings,
toilets, and restaurants for whites and blacks.
|During the Reconstruction
period of 1865-76, federal law provided civil rights protection in the South
for freedmen—the African-Americans who had formerly been slaves.
Reconstruction ended at different dates (the latest 1877), and was followed
in each Southern state by Redeemer governments that passed the Jim Crow laws
to separate the races. In the Progressive Era the restrictions were
formalized, and segregation was extended to the federal government by
President Woodrow Wilson in 1913.
|1-3 May 1866
During 3 days of racial violence in Memphis, Tennessee, white civilians and
police killed 46 African Americans and injured numerous others. At least two
whites were also killed. In addition, mobs burned 90 houses, 12 schools, and
4 churches. The establishment of Fort Pickering, a post for black troops, and
the use of black soldiers to patrol the city contributed to the tension that
erupted into one of the bloodiest riots of the Reconstruction Era. It was
only one of several violent outbreaks in the South that helped Radical
Republicans win support for their own plan of Military Reconstruction.
|In 1869 Robert Brown
Elliot served as adjutant general of South Carolina, with responsibility for
establishing a state militia to protect black and white citizens from the Ku
Klux Klan. The following year, he became the first black general to command
the South Carolina National Guard.
|On June 15, 1877 Henry
O. Flipper, born into slavery in Georgia, became the first African American
to graduate from the U.S. Military Academy at West Point. After joining the
10th Cavalry, 2nd Lieutenant Flipper served as the Army’s only black officer
until 1882 when he was court-martialed for embezzling funds from the
commissary. Although acquitted, the Army still discharged him for
"conduct unbecoming an officer." Almost 100 years later, his
innocence was substantiated during an official records review, which cleared
Flipper’s name and changed his dismissal to an honorable discharge.