This paper seeks to carry out an analysis of “Who are The People of the United States?” at the period when the Jim Crow laws were existence. These laws were enforced after the Reconstruction period until the 1965. The jurisdiction where these laws were enforced was in Southern States of the United States. the Southern States had enacted the laws mandating the separation of whites from the “persons of color” is different social life areas such a public transportation and schools, parks, cemeteries, theatres and restaurants.
During these eras, the government through the Supreme Court established the constitutionality of racial segregation through a judgement of the case, Plessy v. Ferguson (1896). The decision in this case sanctioned the idea of racial segregation through the doctrine on “Separate but unequal”. This policy was argued that the Fourteenth Amendment was not meant to abolish distinctions based on color. It is important to note that it is the Fourteenth Amendment that outlined who the people of the United States were. According to the Fourteenth Amendment to the US Constitution, “All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside (Finkelman, 2014). No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.
Under the Jim Crow Laws, the government regulated the segregation and also the social relations. The Jim Crow laws created a scenario of race quandary, where the whites came up with several barriers that the African Americans faces, and at the same time blamed them for their conditions. The laws set to deny the blacks access to resources. The white citizens got more privileges than the blacks. In some areas such as Mississippi, the blacks were denied the privilege to vote (Martin, 1993).
Jim Crow laws lead to establishment of classes of citizens; with the white people being regarded as the first-class citizens and the black citizens regarded as second-class citizens. The blacks were not allowed to integrate with the white superior. In the Southern States, only the whites were regarded as full citizens and could be allowed to vote without limitations. On the other hand, there established limitation on the blacks who could be allowed to vote; to only those who owned property, the literate, those whose grandfathers had voted, those with good characters, as well as the ones who had paid poll taxes. During this period, the law disregarded the definition of a citizen as prescribed by the Fourteenth Amendment to the US constitution and advocated for segregation of the citizens under the principle of “separate but equal”.
During this period, the main idea on citizenship was the white people were superior than the blacks. This led to situation where the whites were accorded priority over African Americans. The reaction to the laws was the strict regulation of social interactions between the races. This led to development of separate facilities for blacks and whites such as hospitals, prisons, schools, churches, cemeteries, restrooms, and accommodations. The people of color who dared go contrary to these laws faced persecutions including jail time. This situation led to tensions between the blacks and whites. The law prohibited marriages between the white and the black people. The two races could not compete in sports and black people could not be allowed to greet a white person as this would imply them being socially equal (Martin, 1993).
In the context under discussion, the phrase “We The People” implies the first-class citizens. These are people who enjoyed the full privileges as guaranteed by the Fourteenth Amendment to the US Constitution. The blacks could not be adequately accommodated under the phrase, “We The People” since they enjoyed less privileges.
Finkelman, P. (2014). Original Intent and the Fourteenth Amendment: Into the Black Hole of Constitutional Law. Chi.-Kent L. Rev., 89, 1019.
Martin, D. (1993). Birth of Jim Crow in Alabama 1865-1896, The. Nat’l Black LJ, 13, 184.
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