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Jim Crow

Jim Crow

Reading Quizzes

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Big Picture


1. Who came up with the first Jim Crow routine?
2. What did the term "Jim Crow" mean to whites?
3. What does the term "splendid failure" refer to?
4. What were some of the ways in which southern whites maintained their domination over blacks?
5. What were the consequences of disobeying unwritten "negro laws"?


1. Thomas "Daddy" Rice performed the first Jim Crow routine in Pittsburgh. He dressed in blackface and sang a distorted version of a slave song, and by the mid-1830s, he had turned his comedic performance into a hit with white audiences.
2. The term "Jim Crow" implied a representation of the black man as a stereotype and a jovial, gimpy buffoon. By the 1900s, the term had evolved to describe the system of laws that controlled them and defined the elaborate racial segregation of the American South.
3. "Splendid failure" refers to Radical Reconstruction in the 1870s, during which there was a short but revolutionary period of biracial democracy in which African-Americans seized new political, educational, and economic opportunities. The failure, however, came by the late 1870s, when Radical Reconstruction was abandoned and southern whites employed violence to dismantle the progressive policies of the past decade.
4. White legislators in the South passed a number of laws that dictated where black citizens could eat, drink, swim, walk, work, be hospitalized, or be buried. Blacks were legally prevented from sitting in the same areas as whites in public places, and housing codes kept blacks from living in white neighborhoods. The most common type of Jim Crow law prevented sexual intercourse between blacks and whites.
5. If a black person in the South achieved economic success or demonstrated confidence, intelligence, or achievement, they were frequently threatened, imprisoned, forced out of their job, or lynched. Whites used intimidation, harassment, and violence to control blacks who failed to act in a servile manner, which resulted in some of the most appalling crimes in the history of the United States.