the Rise and Fall of Jim Crow


( cheerful music playing ) ♪ Come listen,
all you gals and boys ♪ ♪ I’m just from Tuckahoe ♪ ♪ I’m goin’ to sing
a little song ♪ ♪ My name’s Jim Crow. ♪ ♪ Wheel about and turn about
and do just so ♪ ♪ Every time I wheel about,
I jump Jim Crow. ♪ ♪ I went down to the river… ♪ ROUNDTREE:
In 1836, Jim Crow was born. He begins his strange career as a malicious minstrel
caricature of a black man created by a white man
to amuse white audiences. ( audience laughing ) Jim Crow would come to symbolize
one of the most tragic eras of race relations
in American history, a time deeply rooted
in promise and contradiction. 1865– four million Americans, slaves simply because they
were born black, were now free. But in a little over a decade,
that promise was gone, replaced by a rigid system
of laws designed to keep blacks from experiencing any
of their newly achieved rights. It would be known
as the era of Jim Crow– the American form
of racial apartheid. I tried to lean inside
and get me a cup of water, and those white people beat me
till I was unconscious. They thought I was dead. MAN: My dad said, “As long as
you’re living in this South, “you’re going to have to go
to the back door in this town. Now, you just settle for that.” He said, “But one thing “I want you to swear
and promise to me– that you will never
get used to it.” MAN:
I’m not ashamed of the segregated
and Jim Crow experience, all because we were able to
devise techniques for survival that permitted us
to abide our time and to wait
until our change come. ROUNDTREE: As most blacks
were willingto bide their time, some began to fight back. In the late 1880s and ’90s they embarked on
an uncertain campaign to secure voting rights,
build their own communities, schools, businesses
and churches, and to demand redress against
mob violence and lynching. The white supremacists
fought back. By 1919 the Ku Klux Klan, which had been
a Southern idiosyncrasy, became a national ideology. White supremacy–
the power behind Jim Crow– appeared invincible,
and over the next decade the violence against blacks
would grow even more horrific. But black Americans
continued to battle, using the power of the press and ultimately the power of
the courts to pursue their quest for freedom and equality
against racism. The rise and fall of Jim Crow
is their story, the story of strong men
and women who would never accept the demeaning, threatening
and perilous world of Jim Crow. The rise and fall of Jim Crow
is the story of those who, in the face of unending
terror, achieved triumphs– triumphs that would in time
make America a better place, not just for themselves,
but for all of us.

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