The NAACP issued its first travel warning due to new legislation in Missouri, which is deemed to be equivalent to a Jim Crow Law. The advisory was initiated in June 2017 and confirmed during the 108th NAACP Annual Convention, which took place July 22-26.
The June 7 travel advisory for people of color reads:
The NAACP wants to make Missourians and our visitors aware of looming
danger which could include what has happened to some residents and visitors.
The three-page document includes examples of events that have occurred since Missouri Senate Bill 43 was signed into law. In the first example, the NAACP points out that a man who ran out of gas was jailed but not arrested. He died in custody.
The second took place in a St. Louis high school. Black students were attacked by assailants wielding hot glue guns. Next are reports from four campuses of the University of Missouri where black students were harassed. The final example relates the story that took place in Kansas City. Two men were shot, simply because they were believed to be Muslim.
Details of the New Law: Missouri SB43
The title of bill SB43 is “modifies the law relating to unlawful discrimination.” Under this law, bringing forth a case is more complicated because it mandates direct relationship between harassment and the effect on its recipient. In other words, if a person claims they have experienced racial bias, they can no longer use the previous rule that states it is unlawful to discriminate against a person within the protected classification.
Instead, victims within the protected groups must prove the correlation between the discrimination and the claimed result, such as being fired, or mental anguish. Moreover, the accused is now entitled to a trial by jury.
The law was signed by Missouri Gov. Eric Robert Greitens on June 30 and goes into effect on August 28.
The NAACP interprets this law as follows:
SB 43 legalizes individual discrimination and harassment in Missouri and would prevent individuals from protecting themselves from discrimination, harassment, and retaliation in Missouri.
Another point of contention is the overwhelmingly zealous routine traffic stops when it comes to African-Americans. Statistically, according to the Missouri NAACP, blacks are 75 percent more likely to be stopped than white drivers. During these stops, unwarranted search of the car and its occupants, and on occasion unnecessary violence.
The Origin of the Term Jim Crow
Crows have a bad rap. They are the subject of various superstitions, most of which indicate bad luck. When slaves brought to the U.S. from Africa, they brought a tradition of folk tales, dance, and song.
African cultural traditions include many folk tales of trickster animals, including birds, such as crows and buzzards who seem foolish, but who always manage to get what they want through cleverness and luck. In the Yoruba culture of West Africa, he is a crow named Jim.
“Jump Jim Crow,” was a folk song sung by slaves. It eventually evolved into the “corn song,” used when they were husking corn. In the 17th Century, laws were created that prohibited slaves from performing traditional dances. Apparently, whites thought the moves were sacrilegious. One was the way they crossed their feet. So, the slaves adapted the moves to accommodate the ordinance by developing the shuffle, which was they called the Jim Crow dance.
Most people would say that the first white performer to don a blackface was the person who initiated the term, Jim Crow. While that is a myth, Thomas “Daddy” Rice was the minstrel most identified the creation of blackface, his interpretation, and imitation of the slaves.
In the 1830s, Rice was performing in Kentucky, he claims to met a slave who was a stableman named Jim Crow. This raggedy-dressed man supposedly walked with a limp and suffered from a condition that made one shoulder hang lower than the other. While the man was working, he sang “Jump Jim Crow.”
Rice was fascinated by the man and lyrics: “Weel about and turn about and do jis so, Eb’ry time I weel about I jump Jim Crow.” As the story goes, Rice bought Crow’s clothes, learned the dance and song. He brought the act to the old Park Theatre in New York. Each night he added new verses to the song. Not only did he become famous, but he was also respected by other performers and viewed as the “father of American minstrelsy,” according to Ken Padgett’s website; Blackface! Origins of Jump Jim Crow.
Racial Discrimination in Missouri and the South
Sadly, bigotry and the United States are synonymous. However, racial discrimination in the southern states there was an unusual name for the unfair and illegal actions against African-Americans — Jim Crow.
The Civil War, 1861-65, ended enslavement in the south and legislation was passed to protect newly-freed slaves. However, in the south, laws were established segregating races. According to National Geographic:
As early as the 1890s, these laws had gained a nickname. In 1899, North Carolina’s Goldsboro Daily Argus published an article subtitled “How ‘Capt. Tilley’ of the A. & N.C. Road Enforces the Jim Crow Law.”
In two separate protests, Jim Crow was figuratively buried. Once was post-WWII, in 1944, and again in 1964 during the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom.
President Lyndon B. Johnson signed two bills to end discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex, or national origin. The first was the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the second was the Voting Rights Act of 1965. Both were supposed to be a step toward ending racial disparity in America, but they did not.
When the Democrats dominated the political arena, African-Americans experienced several periods of false-security against racial bias. Now that the Republicans are in majority groups that have been protected by civil rights laws and the Supreme Court are in peril. Missouri’s SB43 is an example. The government is working toward legalizing the discrimination protected groups experience on a daily basis.
With the government’s 360º turn on continuing to support people in protected classes, laws like the one passed in Missouri will flourish. Essentially, undoing years of progress and making incendiary discrimination that exists with Jim Crow laws.
By Cathy Milne
CNN: NAACP issues its first statewide travel advisory, for Missouri
Missouri NAACP: URGENT – MISSOURI TRAVEL ADVISORY
Ken Padgett: Blackface! Origins of Jump Jim Crow
National Geographic: Who Was Jim Crow?
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