Merriam-Webster defines the policy of Jim Crow as “racial segregation and discrimination enforced by laws, customs, and practices in especially the southern states of the U.S. from the end of Reconstruction in 1877 until the mid-20th century.” Jim Crow was the impetus for much of the Civil Rights Movement of the 1950s and ‘60s. While Jim Crow sought to be presented by its patrons and practitioners as a benign cultural practice, it was in fact a decades-long and nationwide brutal form of oppression that included acts of domestic terrorism, including lynching. While the Jim Crow Era may have ended in “the mid-20th century,” its legacy continues. Throughout American society today, “racial segregation and discrimination enforced by laws, customs, and practices” is rampant in the U.S. justice system, as well as in the nation’s financial and real estate markets.
In this lesson, students discover and discuss a shared theme of identifying and resisting Jim Crow by examining works of literature and music by Black Americans.