WHAT WERE JIM CROW LAWS? (Illustration) American History Awesome Radio - Narrated Stories Civil Rights Government Law and Politics Slaves and Slave Owners Social Studies Trials Nineteenth Century Life Ethics African American History

Curators at the Library of Congress describe this image: “Jim Crow. Print shows African American man in tattered clothes walking or dancing as a couple of animals dressed as humans stroll alongside a river with a steamboat and sailboat.” The publication date of this illustration is uncertain, perhaps sometime between 1835-1845. The term “Jim Crow” was eventually used to describe American laws which permitted racial segregation. Click on the image for a better view.


"Jim Crow" was an antebellum character in a minstrel show. A white man (Tom "Daddy" Rice) - made up as a black man - incorporated a character called "Jim Crow" into his show in 1832.

Jim Crow sang a song to this music:

Come listen all you galls and boys,
I'm going to sing a little song,
My name is Jim Crow.
Weel about and turn about
And do jis so,
Eb'ry time I weel about
I jump Jim Crow.

Soon the term "Jim Crow" became a euphemism for "Negro."

Then the term "Jim Crow Laws" became a euphemism for legal segregation.

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Author: Carole D. Bos, J.D. 5190stories and lessons created

Original Release: Aug 01, 2005

Updated Last Revision: May 03, 2019

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"WHAT WERE JIM CROW LAWS?" AwesomeStories.com. Aug 01, 2005. Jan 26, 2020.
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