Civil Discourse Now

Where the far left and far right overlap for fun and enlightenment

1865-1954: Civil War did not end institutionalized racism

On Tues, July 13, 9 p.m., on “Mouthwash,” John Schmitz’s FB podcast, the topic: Critical Race Theory (“CRT”), i.e., a view that racism “is embedded in our society and legal systems to uphold supremacy of white persons.” From 1789 to 1865 the racism in our system was clear.

A second period of institutionalized racism began in 1865 and ran to 1954. Amendment XIII, §1, ratified on 12/18/1865, abolished slavery, but it did not abolish “racism embedded in our society and legal systems to uphold the supremacy of white persons.”

Right after the Civil War, former slaves were subjected to “black codes” in the South. All “continued to assume the inferiority of the freed slaves.” “Black Code,” Jim Crow Museum, Ferris State University. Amendments XIV and XV, in part, sought to address these codes.

Black people were denied the right to vote for decades. They were denied equal treatment in public accommodations. They were hanged, slaughtered, imprisoned and denied equal access to education. The KKK and other hate groups arose. Ferguson, 163 U.S. 537 (1896).

In 1896 the Court handed down Plessy v Ferguson, 163 U.S. 537. Louisiana required railways “to provide equal, but separate, accommodations for the white and colored races.” 163 U.S. at 537. In language similar to Dred Scott, the Court ruled, 7-1, the statute was constitutional.

Brown, J., noted, laws forbidding intermarriage of the two races may be said “to interfere with the freedom of contract, and yet have been universally recognized as within the police power of the State.” 163 U.S. at 545. Such laws were declared unconstitutional in 1967. 388 U.S. 1.

The Court saw a fallacy that “enforced separation of the two races stamps the colored race with a badge of inferiority. If this be so, it is not by reason of anything found in the act, but solely because the colored race chooses to put that construction upon it.... We imagine that the white race, at least, would not acquiesce in this assumption.” 163 U.S. at 551.

Harlan, J., wrote in dissent: The thing to accomplish was, under the guise of giving equal accommodation for whites and blacks, to compel the latter to keep to themselves while travelling in railroad passenger coaches. No one would be so wanting in candor as to assert the contrary.
163 U.S. at 556-57.

The dissent cont’d: “The destinies of the two races, in this country, are indissolubly linked together, and the interests of both require that the common government of all shall not permit the seeds of race hate to be planted under the sanction of law. What can more certainly arouse race hate, what more certainly create and perpetuate a feeling of distrust between these races, than state enactments, which, in fact, proceed on the ground that colored citizens are so inferior and degraded that they cannot be allowed to sit in public coaches occupied by white citizens? That, as all will admit, is the real meaning of such legislation as was enacted in Louisiana.” 163 U.S. at 560.

After WWI in Indiana the Klan was in power. “The day Ed Jackson was sown in as Governor on January 12, 1925 the invisible empire of the Klan controlled the State of Indiana. It made the laws and enforced them. Besides Governor Jackson, it had elected legislators, prosecutors, judges and Mayors.... The Klan preached white supremacy, terrorized Negroes, persecuted Jews, discriminated against Catholics and with a pathological ferocity took unto itself the duties of vice crusading and the punishing of immorality.” Leibowitz, “My Indiana,” 1964, pp. 189-90.

Racism was embedded in this society and our laws from its founding. Even amendment of The Constitution could not stop end-arounds on civil rights. “Separate but equal” was the law of this country until Brown v Bd of Education I

Without the Civil War it is highly unlikely slavery would have been abolished in this country. The votes were not there. And while the Southern States seceded to protect slavery, President Lincoln did not seek its abolition until later in the Civil War.

Ours is a governmental system in which enslavement of Black people by the “dominant” race was status quo and only abolished because slave States became indignant that slavery could not be expanded. Racism could hardly be more embedded.

German school children should learn about 1933-45 and Russian children about czarist pogroms and Stalinist oppression. Kids in our schools should learn about slavery and not a “red white and blue” cartoon many of their parents were taught.

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