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The Legacy of “Jim Crow”

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These artifacts depict particularly ugly and sadistic stereotypes—images of supposed natives, bug-eyed buffoons, and simpleminded children—that originated in the slave-holding days of the nineteenth century and remained popular in the South and elsewhere throughout the civil rights era.

While this imagery was varied, and worked in multiple ways, its inevitable purpose in southern culture was to further the cause of so-called Jim Crow segregation laws by distinguishing between the humanity and supremacy of white people and the alleged “inferiority” of black people.

 

Image Credits/Captions (Click on thumbnails for full image)

Letter Opener and Pencil, c. 1950s. Celluloid, wood, graphite. 1 3/4 x 7 3/4 in. Collection of Civil Rights Archive/CADVC-UMBC, Baltimore, Maryland, Anonymous Gift 2010.21.ab

Birthday Card, c. 1940s. Offset lithography on paper. 4 1/2 x 4 1/2 in. Collection of Civil Rights Archive/CADVC-UMBC, Baltimore, MD, 2005.177

Clean Fun Starring “Shoogafoots Jones,” 1946. 9 7/8 in x 6 7/16 in. Collection of Civil Rights Archive/CADVC-UMBC, Baltimore, MD, 2005.90

“Minstrel” Makeup Kit, c. 1950s. Offset lithograph on paper, plastic, greasepaint. Dimensions variable. Collection of Civil Rights Archive/CADVC-UMBC, Baltimore, Maryland, Anonymous Gift 2010.19.ad