social historical context

Racism, Discrimination, and
Segregation in America
Origins of Racism
•“Scientific Racism”
•“One Drop” Rule
•Race is a social construct!
 Race: category of people labeled and
treated as similar because of some
common biological traits, such as skin
color, texture of hair, and shape of eyes
 Race has no “scientific” basis, e.g.,
•Not always tied to racism.
The word “slave” comes from sclavus meaning “slavic people” or people from
East or Central Europe. Slavery was a part of many ancient civilizations
including Aztec, Sumer, Egypt, Syria, Greece, Persia, Byzantines, Vikings,
Arab and African kingdoms.
•Lasted from 1607 – 1865
•“Inferiority of race” used as a justification
•System of deference resulted Deference = submission or courteous
yielding to the opinion, wishes, or judgment of another.
•13th Amendment Freed the slaves in 1865 (end of the Civil War)
•14th Amendment made African Americans US Citizens in 1867
•15th Amendment gave all American men the right to vote in 1868
Strange Fruit
Billie Holiday
Abel Meeropol
•Definition: to lynch means to put to death (usually by
hanging) by mob action without due process of the law or
legal sanction.
•Term coined in 1830s after vigilante William Lynch.
•Many types of people were lynched throughout history, from outlaws in the
American West to immigrants in American cities, but that the vast majority
of lynching victims have been African-American men.
•Between 1882 and 1968, mobs lynched 4,743 persons in the United
States, over 70% of them African-Americans.
•By the late 1920s, 95% of U.S. lynchings occurred in the South.
•By 1950, lynchings virtually disappeared due to anti-lynching efforts
headed by the NAACP.
Without Sanctuary: Photographs and Postcards of Lynching in America
Ku Klux Klan (KKK)
Definition: a white supremacist group originating in the South after the
Civil War. The KKK has been responsible for countless acts of
terrorism, violence, and lynching all intended to intimidate, murder and
oppress African Americans, Jews, and other minorities.
Alleged Klan Members:
1920 = 4,000,000
1930 = 30,000
Harry Truman
Warren G. Harding
16 Senators
11 Governors
? # Representatives
1980 = 5,000
2008 = 6,000
Jim Crow Laws
Definition: Laws that separated/segregated African Americans and
other non-white racial groups from White Americans.
Some commonly segregated spaces as a result of Jim Crow were:
•public areas
Plessy v. Ferguson (1896)
•The Plessy decision
made Jim Crow laws
•Therefore, according to
the Supreme Court,
segregation is legal.
De jure = by law
De facto = in practice
Emmett Till
•14 year old from Chicago visiting relatives in
Money, Mississippi (1955)
•Supposedly whistled at a white woman in a
grocery store on a dare
•The woman’s husband and his half brother
went to Till’s house that night
•Till was kidnapped, beaten, shot, and then his
body was dumped into a river
•Till’s mother insisted on an open-casket
•The 2 men went to trial, but were acquitted by
the all white jury members
•Later, in exchange for $4000, the men told
Look magazine how they brutally murdered Till
The Death of Emmett Till:
Matthew Shepard
Civil Rights v. Human Rights
Definition: a contract between
Definition: inherent rights that all
citizens and their government,
where the government spells out
rights afforded to its citizens.
people have simply because they
are human. Not necessarily
guaranteed by a government.
Right to bear arms
Right to food and water
Freedom of or from religion
Right to marry
Right to vote
Right to refuse to kill
Freedom from excessive bail
Right to rest and leisure
BUT, there’s a lot of overlap. Many of the rights found in our US
Constitution are also found in the Universal Declaration of Human
Rights. For example: freedom from slavery or servitude, freedom from
cruel or unusual punishment, right to equal protection under the law.