What Are Jim Crow Laws?

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Life in America has been plagued by racial tension since its formation. However, up until the Reconstruction period, it had not actually been verbalized. During the years the Price family spent in the Congo on its mission trip, the racial issues they had been accustomed to made coexisting with the Congolese all the more difficult. The Jim Crow Laws divided people in a way they had not been before; they widened the gap that separated America by exacerbating segregation and making racism visual as well as mental for the Price family and those around them. Before one can understand the full effect these laws had, he or she must know where these laws came from. Many believe the term “Jim Crow” originated as a prewar minstrel caricature developed…show more content…
The Civil Rights movement primarily began in the late 1950s, around the time the family left for the Congo. Some events that were going on at the time were boycotts of public segregation, the famous incident in which Rosa Parks refused to give up her seat to a white man, and Martin Luther King, Jr., rising up as a prominent civil rights leader by leading marches to fight against transportation segregation (Pendergast 97). Schools were being integrated as a result of the Brown vs. Board of Education trials, though it had not been enacted by Leah, Adah and Rachel’s school yet. While most of the protesting and fighting went on while the family was in Kilanga, Orleanna and Adah returned to the states in time to hear Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I Have A Dream” speech, see the Civil Rights and Voting Rights acts signed by President Johnson, and watch news reports on King’s assasination in 1968 (Hasday 109). They were in America during these events, though they did not seem to pay them much attention in the novel. As far as Rachel and Leah were concerned, the Civil Rights Movement was as foreign a concept as Chinese culture would have been, for they lived in the Congo where racism ran rampant yet rights were few and far between for most people, regardless of race. While the Jim Crow Laws had a lasting effect on the Price children, be it good or bad, they quite possibly had a greater effect on the American nation. The reforms brought on by the illegalization of these laws were so radical that they opened up the doors for many other changes, including the fight for women’s suffrage and the election of a president of mixed racial background. America still has a long way to go in the fight against racism, but it has also come a long way since the days of slave owners and
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