Living the Story: The Civil Rights Movement in Kentucky
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Jim Crow Laws

Jim Crow laws, enacted during the Reconstruction era after the Civil War, became a new way of ensuring white supremacy. These laws kept white people and black people far apart from each other in daily life. Blacks could not use the same public restrooms or waiting rooms as whites and were not allowed to attend “white” schools or sit in “white” seats on buses. Signs hung in public places designated the “whites only” and “colored” facilities.

The segregation laws were supplemented by a rigid social code—often enforced by violence—dictating how blacks were to act around whites. Together, the laws and customs were meant to ensure that blacks would never forget their “place” in the social, economic, and political hierarchy. Separation of the races also ensured that individuals of different races would never truly get to know each other. Nor would they ever have to question their own prejudices, since that meant questioning the law itself.

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