Unbelievable when you think about it, how North Carolina maintained its segregated and discriminatory racial system for such a long time. The remnants of what is commonly called “Jim Crow” are still with us, a daily reminder of the horrors of the past.

A new book, “Jim Crow in North Carolina: The Legislative Program from 1865 to 1920,” by Richard A. Paschal helps us understand the impact of Jim Crow on North Carolina. It catalogs and summarizes race-based laws passed by the General Assembly from the end of the Civil War until 1920.

Paschal, a Raleigh lawyer who holds a graduate degree in history, argues that it was not so much the laws on the books that brought about and maintained the segregated and oppressive system sometimes branded as “Jim Crow.” More important, he says, were the longstanding community standards and customs and the allocation of community resources by the dominating white power structure.

Paschal challenges the views of respected historians such as C. Vann Woodward, whose classic book, “The Strange Career of Jim Crow,” argued that, even under slavery, the two races had not been as divided as they were under the Jim Crow laws of the late 1890s and afterward. Further, Woodward said that during Reconstruction, there was significant racial mixing in economic and political matters. The segregating of the races, he wrote, was a relative newcomer to the region.

The core of Paschal’s book is his lists of laws passed by the

N.C. General Assembly from 1865 through 1920. The lists include numerous laws passed before the 1890s that restricted Blacks or discriminated against them.

While having separate schools for Blacks and whites was not controversial in the time after the Civil War, unequal funding was a continuing blight. For instance, local communities had the power and responsibility for establishing and funding schools, supposedly on an equal basis. But one method approved by the legislature provided that the white schools would be funded by taxes on white people and Black schools would be funded by taxes on “colored persons.” In 1885 the N.C. Supreme Court recognized the discrimination and struck down the plan.

Paschal asserts that many of the Jim Crow restrictions and much of the subjugation of Blacks were not solely “de jure,” that is, mandated by specific laws. Much of Jim Crow came about without specific legislation.

Even the most blatant result of the 1898 and 1900 white supremacy campaigns, the disenfranchisement of Blacks, was accomplished by implementation of a literacy requirement for voting. Paschal points out that a significant number of Blacks were literate. The law permitted literate Blacks to vote. But in its implementation, even the most literate Blacks failed the tests imposed by community voting officials who were, of course, all white.

With respect to jury participation by Blacks, Paschal found no racial restrictions in the law, but Blacks rarely were allowed to serve. “The lack of African Americans in the jury box worked to the detriment of the Black community and Black criminal defendants for decades. The racial incitement of the white supremacy campaigns created a chasm between legal text and the application and operation of the law, as local officials tilted the playing field decisively against the state’s African American population.”

In his conclusion Paschal writes, “In order to fully understand the shadow that Jim Crow continues to cast over us today, it is necessary to know how ostensibly democratic government at all levels and in all places used law to advance white interests while disadvantaging the interests of African Americans and other minorities.”

He might have added that in too many places it is still happening.

D.G. Martin hosts “North Carolina Bookwatch,” Sunday 3:30 p.m. and Tuesday at 5 p.m. on UNC-TV.

(11) comments

Mark Hayes

D.G. Martin, I would not be overly concerned, Blacks just need White Democrat politician to get out of their way, White Democrat politicians need the Blacks more than the Blacks need White Democrats. Joe Biden belittled an entire race by his comment of " if you are African-American and struggle with voting for me or Trump, then you ain't Black ", and it worked. Biden did not wear a hood, but neither did George Wallace, another Democratic politician who also pursued being President. Martin, had you ever had a real job, you would have come in contact with real people, most don't have time like yourself and others to be racist, you should get a bigger spoon if you want to continue to stir the pot.

Peyton Cook

It’s interesting that nowhere in the article that their is no reference to the Democrats were responsible for the Jim Crow laws after the end of the Reconstruction Era, and were in place until the 1960s.

Jim Tomashoff

This is an incredibly ignorant comment from Peyton, who has told us that he once taught U.S. History. The Democrats were the "conservative party" before, during, and after the Reconstruction Era. The Republicans, the "Party of Lincoln" were the more liberal party during this period of American history. By the 1920s the two parties had switched on the Liberal-Conservative scale. The Democrats were the "liberal" party by the time Al Smith ran for president in 1928, although the southern states continued to elect Democrats to state and federal offices right up to the 1968 elections. Nixon ran a thinly veiled anti civil rights platform and carried most southern states in 1968, dubbed the "Southern Strategy". Since that time the Republicans have been the "conservative" party. One would hope Peyton would know that. But he doesn't. He also does not seem to know the difference between "their" and "there." But I guess I quibble. Right Peyton?

Mark Hayes

Jim, the White Democrats have been using race for decades, they have campaigned on the same issues, made the same promises, used the same rhetoric, instigated and promoted unrest, all for their own political pursuits. You are correct there is a difference between " their " and there ", White Democrats have demonstrated that for decades. If " their " going to live there, than we don't want to live "there," take a look out of your window, count how many Black families do you see living "there ". The hypocrisy by White Democrat politicians and those that accuse others of racism is, and has been a political ploy that dates back to the Kennedy years. White Democratic politicians have credited themselves with advancing the plight of any race that is " not " White, targeting their own race as the cause for any injustice, racism, along with any other unwarranted accusation they can use to their own benefit. As knowledgeable as you seem to be on U.S. History, you must realize much of it is being discarded as half truths and lies by many who would question the accuracy. The country has changed, today the statues and monuments of the Civil War have been removed, sports teams are having to change the names, burning the U.S. Flag has become an act of patriotism, everyone is offended by something, so it must go.

Sally Larson

I'm so sick of listening to this BS from the conspiracy theorists. What are you talking about????? You don't know anything about Democrats, just passing on what you've heard from your cult leaders. There's just no room for this nonsense anymore.

Mark Hayes

Sally, while you were still in a training bra, having sleep overs with your little girl friends at Purnell all girls school, I was experiencing what Democrats created, so yes, I do know a thing or two about Democrats and Republicans. As for a cult leader comment, well that just reveals more about you than myself.

Sally Larson

Mark, Democrats, and Republicans were very different back 50 years ago, nothing like today. You did know Trump was a democrat before he decided he'd run in 2016 didn't you? He figured he could con you all with conspiracy theories so he went for it.

Mark Hayes

Sally, " con you all ", I would have voted for Yetta Bronstein before Hillary Clinton. I find it rather humorous that so many Democrats are mocking Trump for his after election antics, when millions of Democrats were foolishly buying Clintons " What Happened ". I'm quite sure we come from very different backgrounds and experiences, and that is probably a factor in our differing views, I'll leave it at that.

Sally Larson

"I find it rather humorous that so many Democrats are mocking Trump for his after election antics"

All Americans should be upset about the behavior of our president. Lying, insisting he won when he didn't, poor sportsmanship, childish antics, refusing to concede, and the list goes on. Everyone should be embarrassed by his behavior. He lost and can't deal with it. How pathetic is that?

Peyton Cook

I stand by what I wrote. It is all true. You Leftists do not want to take any responsibility for how you have treated even today. Biden chastised a black talk show when he said, “ If you don’t know the difference between Trump and me, you ain’t black. Also, what have Democrat leaders in major cities allow school vouchers and policing in the face of high murder rates?

Mark Hayes

Peyton, the participants on this site have read that comment by Joe Biden multiple times, they don't care, and evidently neither did the African-Americans that voted for bwana Biden. I believe the DNC decision to put Kamal Harris on the ticket may have sealed the deal, but it is what it is, let them live with what they get. In some ways it is actually going to be entertaining.

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