The Strange Career of Jim Crow by C. Vann Woodward

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C. Vann Woodward wrote The Strange Career of Jim Crow for a purpose. His purpose was to enlighten people about the history of the Jim Crow laws in the South. Martin Luther King Jr. called Woodward’s book, “the historical Bible of the civil rights movement.” (221) Martin Luther King Jr.’s quote revealed the true importance of Woodward’s book. Woodard’s book significance was based on it revealing the strange, forgotten facets of the Jim Crow laws. Assumptions about the Jim Crow’s career have existed since its creation. Woodward tried to eliminate the false theories as he attempted to uncover the truths. Woodward argued the strangest aspects of Jim Crow’s career were, it was a recent innovation and not created in the South
Assumptions from the beginning, presumed the Jim Crow laws went hand in hand with slavery. Slavery, though, contained an intimacy between the races that the Jim Crow South did not possess. Woodward used another historian’s quote to illustrate the familiarity of blacks and whites in the South during slavery, “In every city in Dixie,’ writes Wade, ‘blacks and whites lived side by side, sharing the same premises if not equal facilities and living constantly in each other’s presence.” (14) Slavery brought about horrible consequences for blacks, but also showed a white tolerance towards blacks. Woodward explained the effect created from the proximity between white owners and slaves was, “an overlapping of freedom and bondage that menaced the institution of slavery and promoted a familiarity and association between black and white that challenged caste taboos.” (15) The lifestyle between slaves and white owners were familiar, because of the permissiveness of their relationship. His quote displayed how interlocked blacks...

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... newspaper article shown by Woodward gave a picture of how new the idea of segregation was in the South. Woodward put it best when he stated, “The policies of proscription, segregation, and disfranchisement that are often described as the immutable ‘folkways’ of the South, impervious alike to legislative reform and armed intervention, are of a more recent origin.” (65) He wanted to show how the roots of the system were not integrated with slavery. Jim Crow laws and slavery were both horrible institutions, but they existed as two seperate entities. Woodward does not claim the South to be picturesque, because the Jim Crow laws were not established in the region. The South established Jim Crow laws and made them worse than found in the North. Woodward’s goal was not to protect the South’s legacy, but to give a clearer picture of the facts regarding the Jim Crow laws.
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