Blacks, mostly in the south, were prohibited from owning guns and black men were prohibited from speaking to or touching white women. Propaganda at the time depicted the savage black beast craving white women, a scare tactic that fueled the fire of racist laws. Voter suppression laws such as poll taxes and knowledge tests did not specifically mention blacks but were made to keep black voter levels low. Segregation laws did specify that blacks could not use the same restroom or restaurant and had to stay separate in schools, on buses and trains among other places.
Black persons may have been free but remained second-class citizens for a century following their emancipation. These laws had a tremendous effect on black’s ability to climb the social ladder; the long lasting effects of this circumstance can be seen even now. A Jim Crow law marked the start of the Civil Rights Movement when Rosa Parks refused to give her bus seat to a white man near the front. Local preachers including Martin Luther King used the publicity generated from the Parks incident to begin organizing both blacks and whites who believed Jim Crow laws had to be abolished, that they unfairly subjugated an entire race and was an embarrassment in a supposed civil society. Jim Crow laws legitimized racism. Generations of whites grew up thinking blacks were in fact inferior because it was legal and therefore justifiable to keep them separate from whites. Segregated schools and neighborhoods reinforced this long-ingrained bias. These factors made it very difficult to change people’s minds and change laws. Jim Crow laws have been long since eradicated but their oppressive, prejudicial influences remains in the minds and hearts of too many