Jim Crow Law

Reviewing the book The New Jim Crow made me wonder how this phrase originated.

“It is not clear how, but the minstrel character’s name ‘Jim Crow’ became a kind of shorthand for the laws, customs and etiquette that segregated and demeaned African Americans primarily from the 1870s to the 1960s.” ferris.edu

“The phrase ‘Jim Crow Law’ can be found as early as 1892 in the title of a New York Times article about voting laws in the South.” wikipedia It sounds like the term was already known to readers, so it seems to have originated colloquially, and no one knows who coined it.

In the 1800s, white performers donned “blackface” makeup for minstrel shows where they “played the roles of ignorant, lazy, joyous blacks. Audiences roared with laughter.”

Thomas Dartmouth Rice, a native of New York, was well known for blackface performances where he “acted like a buffoon, and spoke with an exaggerated and distorted imitation of African American Vernacular English. In his Jim Crow persona, he also sang ‘Negro ditties’ such as ‘Jump Jim Crow’.” ferris.edu

Rice supposedly got his act from specific slaves he observed, even buying their clothes to use as his costume. black-face.com

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About Ponderer

Ponderer also writes science fiction and science-inspired rhyming poetry. Check her out at katerauner.wordpress.com/ She worked at Rocky Flats for 22 years - you may know her as Kathy London.

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