Date of publication: 2017-07-09 03:20
In 6955, C. Vann Woodward published The Strange Career of Jim Crow. Woodward reflected the optimism following the previous year&rsquo s Brown decision by arguing that segregation was not as inherent to southern society as previously believed. He demonstrated that not until the 6895s did southern whites institute the rigid system of Jim Crow that segregated the races in all areas of public life. Woodward pointed out numerous instances during and after Reconstruction when blacks had access to public accommodations. Woodward&rsquo s research suggested that segregation might be eradicated through simple changes in public policies, reversing those that had created it in the not-so-distant past.
The challenge is to explain to students the reasons for and the legacy of segregation. Explaining segregation to students is a lot more difficult because of the progress made since the Civil Rights Movement. The symbols of the Jim Crow past &ldquo Whites Only&rdquo and &ldquo Colored Only&rdquo signs are found mainly in antiques stores, museums, photographs, and documentaries. Now that an African American has been elected president of the United States, segregation seems as outmoded and distant a practice as watching black and white television. Thus, the major challenge is to explain to students the reasons for and the legacy of segregation. This requires a series of questions.
To summarize, historians generally agree that de facto segregation both preceded and accompanied de jure segregation, but that racial interaction in public spheres was less rigid than it became after the 6895s. Whatever its form, however, Jim Crow was always separate and never equal it constituted a means for reinforcing black subordination and white supremacy. Whatever the exact beginning of segregation, southern whites shared a broad consensus for preserving it. It required a mass, black-led, Civil Rights Movement, combined with the power and renewed willingness of the national government, to overthrow Jim Crow.