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Home Page  |   Read Stories  |   Jim Crow Laws  |   Resources  |  

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Families Behind the Veil
Documentary Sections
Bitter Times  |   Danger, Violence, Exploitation  |   "Behind the Veil"  |  
Keeping the Past  |   Resistance  |   Whites Remember Jim Crow  |  

Keeping the Past

Jim Crow laws were grounded in two powerful trends in American intellectual life after 1890: the new social sciences, such as anthropology, determined "scientifically" that blacks were inherently inferior to whites, while historians (often from the South) drew a nostalgic picture of slavery as a benevolent, peaceful, honorable time. Black families passed along their own memories of slavery and Reconstruction, which obviously conflicted with the white version of history. African American histories, frequently handed down in oral storytelling, included lessons on family history, spirituality and the experience of emancipation. Black families also made use of the relatively new invention called photography to capture images of their achievements, and to present an opposing view to the claims of black inferiority.

Interview Excerpts
(Real Audio, How to Listen)
Master had his Way Jessie Chassion, 2:24
The Real KKK John Volter, 1:13
Black Heritage Daisy Livingston, 2:47

The state librarian is directed to fit up and maintain a separate place for the use of the colored people who may come to the library for the purpose of reading books or periodicals.
—North Carolina Law  |  More Laws

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