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The roots of American racism run deep. The country’s troubled history of infighting over the ideal that all men are created equal has often clashed with the harsh reality of life for people of color.
Racial prejudice has always haunted the United States, and it continues in many corners of the country today. Although the conclusion of the US Civil War and the ratification of the Thirteenth Amendment abolished the institution of slavery, individual states remained free to write their own brutally racist laws (aka “Jim Crow laws”).
Here are 10 disturbing facts about the Jim Crow era in the United States.Featured image credit: fastcompany.com
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10History Of Jim CrowPhoto credit: blackpast.org
The history of Jim Crow laws dates all the way back to the early 1800s when slavery was still legal in the United States. In Jump, Jim Crow, a bizarre stage show that debuted in 1828, Thomas Rice created what he and his audiences thought of as comedy. Rice painted his face black and performed with the supposed gestures and mannerisms of African Americans.
Though stage actors had appeared in blackface before Rice, he popularized the genre in the 1830s and had a disgustingly cultish level of success with it. The name of the show came to represent the patently racist laws and practices that developed a century later.
In 1852, Harriet Beecher Stowe wrote the book Uncle Tom’s Cabin, which carried an anti-racist, antislavery message and even featured a character called Jim Crow. In an ironic twist, Rice ended up performing in blackface in stage adaptations of Uncle Tom’s Cabin, which were unfaithful to the novel and delivered a racist message that mocked African Americans.
After a long-drawn-out civil war, the federal government made slavery illegal in the United States on December 18, 1865. At that time, Secretary of State William Seward verified the ratification of the Thirteen Amendment to the US Constitution. At least three-quarters of the then 36 states had to vote in favor of ratifying the amendment to abolish slavery across the country.
Twenty-seven states ratified by December 6, 1865. Five more voted in favor by the end of January 1866, and Texas assented in February 1870. However, three states held out until the 20th century. Delaware ratified the amendment in February 1901, Kentucky in March 1976, and Mississippi in February 2013.
Mississippi had actually voted in favor of the amendment in March 1995. But they didn’t send the required paperwork to the National Archives to make it official until 2013 due to a clerical oversight.
Today, many people do not realize that the Republican Party, not the Democratic Party, mainly fought for the rights of blacks during and after the Civil War. Despite opposition from the Democrats, the Republicans passed the Thirteenth Amendment (outlawing slavery), the Fourteenth Amendment (giving blacks equal rights under the law), and the Fifteenth Amendment (giving blacks the right to vote).
After the Thirteenth Amendment was formally ratified in 1865, there was a brief intermission in systemic racism. But it took less than 20 years before many Democrat-dominated state and local governments, primarily in the South, began enacting laws to mandate racial segregation. These came to be called “Jim Crow laws.”
In this long, painful period of US history, slavery was officially abolished but overt racism at the hands of the law was not. The grim period of Jim Crow had begun.
8The Civil Rights Act Of 1875
Believe it or not, a civil rights act existed in the United States way back in 1875. Cosponsored by two Republicans, the bill passed 162–99 in the Republican-controlled House of Representatives and 38–26 in the Republican-controlled Senate. An impressive seven African-American representatives had debated in favor of passing the bill. On March 1, 1875, Republican President Ulysses S. Grant signed it into law.
The act would have stopped Jim Crow laws by prohibiting racial segregation. Unfortunately, it wasn’t long before the US Supreme Court ruled that the Civil Rights Act of 1875 was unconstitutional. Although the Thirteenth Amendment abolished slavery, Congress did not have the authority to regulate private persons or corporations under the Fourteenth Amendment.
Nevertheless, the Civil Rights Act of 1875 shows that many people in the 19th century wanted to abolish racial discrimination under the law.
7TennesseePhoto credit: tn4me.org
Tennessee didn’t even have a recovery period before its racist ways became law. As early as 1866, shortly after the end of the US Civil War, Tennessee passed its first Jim Crow law.
Initially, the state created separate schools for white children and black children. In 1870, Tennessee banned interracial marriage. Then, in 1875, they legalized racial discrimination via private businesses, saying that hotels and other private enterprises could refuse service on the grounds of race.
Shortly thereafter, the infamous “Whites Only” signs began appearing in front of many public establishments. The tragic fact of segregation had just become a reality for the people of Tennessee.
6AlabamaPhoto credit: jimcrow1930.weebly.com
Alabama was another Southern state which almost immediately adopted Jim Crow laws after the end of the Civil War. In 1867, they banned interracial marriage. Fines ranged as high as $1,000, which was an exorbitant price to pay in those days.
Several years later, the state passed a law that made black and white children attend separate schools. In 1891, with limited exceptions, railroads were required to have separate cars for black and white passengers.
As more laws were enacted, bus stations soon had separate waiting areas and ticket windows for black and white people. Bathrooms were segregated by skin color, and white female nurses weren’t allowed to tend to black male patients. It was even illegal for people of different races to play a game of pool together.
51930sPhoto credit: prezi.com
The Jim Crow laws that segregated schools, businesses, railways, and more became increasingly oppressive and bizarre as time went on. By the 1930s, it seemed like anything that even implied that blacks and whites were equal was made illegal.
Black men were not allowed to touch white women in any way without risking a charge of rape, even for common gestures as harmless as a handshake. A black man could not offer to light a cigarette for a white woman without being accused of making a romantic overture. This would also land black men in legal trouble.
Even after the Civil War and the freeing of the slaves, African Americans were still treated as second-class citizens.
41940sPhoto credit: americanhistory.si.edu
Racial discrimination during the Jim Crow era wasn’t confined to the South in the United States. Many photos exist of signs from Northern states establishing their own segregation laws, disallowing whites and blacks from enjoying the same public accommodations.
Black people were not the only ones who experienced such discrimination. During World War II, Japanese Americans were segregated especially harshly.
By the 1940s, it was illegal in Alabama for white and black people to play games together that involved dice, checkers, dominoes, or cards. It was also unlawful in some areas for white people to sell their homes to people of color, and these laws could be quite detailed.
For instance, in some places, if a person had one-eighth or more of a nonwhite race in his lineage, he was considered to be a person of color. At less than one-eighth, he was considered to be white and was free to use the public accommodations available to white people.
3The Change Of The 1950sPhoto via Wikipedia
In the 1950s, attitudes began to change. Support groups and organizations formed in the 1930s and 1940s openly pushed for an end to the Jim Crow era. The “separate but equal” decision of the US Supreme Court in 1896, which had permeated the Jim Crow laws, was growing stale.
In 1955, another monumental act in US history would transpire—the civil disobedience of Rosa Parks. She refused to give up her seat on a bus to a white man, which was against the law at that time.
Parks was arrested, which set the stage for massive social change. Many claim that the Jim Crow era ended in 1954. That year, in their Brown v. Board of Education decision, the US Supreme Court struck down the 1896 law that had permitted states to segregate public schools. Even so, segregation clearly continued for another decade.
2Civil Rights Of The 1960sPhoto credit: eyeswideshut20.blogspot.com/
The road to racial equality in the US had been paved by the movements of the 1950s. In turn, the 1960s drove political and racial turmoil across those avenues as equality was demanded and the push for a new civil rights act gained traction.
Still, it was a slow process. Demonstrations and civil disobedience were nothing new. However, the culmination of all these movements occurred when groups like the Black Panthers and individuals such as Malcolm X and Martin Luther King Jr. gained serious support from both black and white people across America.
This caused widespread chaos. Race riots, massive protests, and general societal disarray became the dominant theme of the day.
1A New Civil Rights Act
On August 28, 1963, approximately 250,000 people participated in the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom. The goal was to achieve economic and civil rights for African Americans. At the Lincoln Memorial, Martin Luther King Jr. delivered his famous “I Have a Dream” speech, where he told of his dream of a nation without racism and segregation.
With the widespread desire for change, the Civil Rights Act of 1964 was ripe to become law with massive backing. It called for the end of an era that had stained the fabric of American history. People are still alive who lived through the Jim Crow era. They remember when it was illegal—based on the color of your skin—to drink from certain water fountains or enter certain establishments.
Finally, after nearly a century of cruel and bizarre laws, the Civil Rights Act of 1964 was signed into law. Initially proposed by Democratic President John F. Kennedy, the first bill failed. Kennedy thought he had lined up enough support from both Democrats and Republicans, but passage was held up by Democrat Howard W. Smith, an ardent segregationist from Virginia.
After Kennedy was assassinated, Democratic President Lyndon B. Johnson used his skill to get the act passed. The main opposition came from the Democrats. Still, Johnson managed to rally enough Democrats and Republicans to vote for a compromise bill, and the Civil Rights Act of 1964 became law on July 2, 1964.
It prohibited discrimination on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, or national origin, as these had all been used to divide people throughout the United States’ tumultuous history. The act still stands as federal law today. Although racism may not be wholly defeated in the United States, it is clear in the eyes of the law that discrimination is an illegal practice that should be forcibly relegated to the dustbin of history.
DHANANJAYA PARKHE! This is the brainpickings.org weekly digest by Maria Popova. If you missed last week’s edition — John Steinbeck on kindness and the key to good writing, Emily Dickinson’s sublime ode to resilience animated, and more …
STUPID IS AS STUPID DOES.
These words above, from the fictional title character of the film, Forrest Gump, have amazing clarity and truth. Think about it as it applies to you. We all do stupid things, mostly by accident, sometimes by omission, and other times strictly due to a lack of concentration. But, “Stupid is as stupid does.” Let’s take a closer look.
I feel safe in venturing that few, if any, of us wake up each morning with the singular goal of, “Gee, what stupid things can I do today and still live to tell about it?” Yet, we manage to do more stupid than brilliant things without really trying. The fact that we are not aware of our own propensity for stupidity may be more of a curse than a blessing. The fortunate end of this is that most often the stupid things we do are little things which, when taken individually, have little or no effect on our life each day. Yet day after day we still do the stupid without regard to the cumulative effect it has on our lives as a whole. While some consider doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result to be a definition of insanity, I like to think of it a dose of good ole homegrown stupidity. This type of behavior will eventually call into question the foundation of Respect we have for yourself.
RESPECT AND THE SPEAKER
As a speaker, you must be ever aware that your authority to speak rests greatly and precariously on the foundation Credibility you established for yourself. A large portion of your credibility is impacted and shaped by the depth of respect you have for yourself, your foundational message, and your relationship to the audiences you serve.
In many cases, as a speaker, it is what we do when we are saying nothing that can easily betray the depth of our credibility and the level of respect we maintain.
You’re at the airport on the way to a speaking opportunity when you step into the newsstand to pick up some water and a snack for the flight. As you walk down the aisle you cross in front of another shopper who is tortuously deciding which chewy snack will hit the spot and you do so without even offering a courteous, “Excuse me.”
“So, what,” you say, “they probably didn’t even notice!”
You might be right. But, that’s not the question you should be asking yourself. The real deep question here is. “Did you notice?” And if you did notice and did not offer a polite, “Excuse me” you may have committed a double offense, one to the person you offended and two to your personal dignity and respect.
When you walk in to your speaking engagement the next day, you are greeted by the very person you were rude to at the airport. You feel stupid for having acted badly in a situation you can never undo. You cannot NOT communicate and the message you have sent through your action is a sign of disrespect and questionable credibility.
RESPECT AND YOUR SPEAKING VOICE
“Actions speak louder than words” and growing your speaking voice is less about what you’re saying and more about the foundational base from which are speaking. While you are diligently digging to discover content that matters to you and will impact your audiences, your actions throughout the process will help solidify a platform with the integrity to support your message.
The more actions of respect inward and outward that you perform, the stronger your experiential base as a speaker will be. Not only will what you say grow, but the strength of conviction within the voice behind those words will grow as well.
SPEAKING OF RESPECT
The general point here is that it is more than just a common courtesy so say “Excuse me” when we infringe on another’s space. By doing so, we acknowledge there are rules of conduct which we ascribe to as a civilized society. These rules help us to create order while they relieve us from the potential rule of chaos.
Saying, “Excuse me” not only bestows a measure of respect on the infringed, it bestows a measure of civility on the infringer as well. This behavior can and will establish an atmosphere of mutual respect between each person involved in the encounter. Respect makes our world a better place to live. It makes our common efforts rewarding. It makes us understand the basis of our common existence.
My challenge to you is to try to be courteous and respectful in all situations. Particularly those when you are about to knowingly do something stupid. Give yourself a break. Take yourself off of autopilot and take command your vessel. At the end of the day, acknowledge the stupid little things you have done and make a conscious effort not to repeat them.
Remember, the most important person in the world is you. If you don’t show yourself the maximum amount of respect you deserve, it’s quite possible no one else will either. If you keep on going day after day repeating one small stupidity after another, it will have a cumulative effect on your reserve of self-respect.
“Stupid is as stupid does,” but stupid does not have to become a standard of performance or an excuse to be rude.
Thanks for your support as a reader of my blog and I eagerly welcome any comments on this post or suggestions you might have for a future blog on a topic near and dear to you in the comments section below. As always, please feel free to share this post with a friend or colleague.
To Your Speaking Success.
The Speech Wiz
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Our human ancestors didn’t have the luxury of modern medicine that we enjoy today. They had to deal with the raw pain of surgical procedures using nothing more than natural remedies and “cures” from old wives’ tales.
No licensed practitioners administered anesthesia to make these patients completely numb or render them unconscious. Thus, plants and various concoctions had to suffice to aid the sick and possibly dying through the surgeries which were meant to save their lives.
Although we have these medical tools at our disposal today, it took a lot of trial and error to get there. Here are 10 important moments in the history of anesthesia.
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The tale of anesthesia and its rudimentary versions begins around 4000 BC when medical practices were also in their infancy. It makes absolute sense that the ancients, whose civilizations were appearing in and around what is now the Middle East, would turn to the opium poppy for its painkilling properties.
Artifacts have shown that the opium poppy was used at least as far back as 4000 BC for dental surgery in an attempt to sedate the patient and reduce the agony of an extremely painful procedure. Thus, if you were fortunate enough to live in an area where these plants were abundant, you could get a good, strong dose of this painkiller before they began drilling your teeth with a bow drill.
9BeerPhoto credit: Smithsonian Magazine
Opium wasn’t the only substance available to relieve the pain of invasive surgeries. There was also beer.
Believed to be up to 12,000 years old, beer may have been invented before bread. So it is very likely that beer served as the first way to treat discomfort in general and obviously the pain of surgery.
In and around Sumeria, an ancient powerhouse of the beer-making world, plenty of people had access to enough of this beverage to get sufficiently drunk before surgery. Concoctions were often made with various plants and flowers. The analgesic properties helped to numb the pain and let people sit still long enough to successfully complete their surgeries.
8HenbanePhoto credit: britannica.com
Although henbane is a highly toxic plant with a light yellow flower, it has been used traditionally as a folk remedy to alleviate pain—from Babylon to ancient Greece, Egypt, and Rome.
When smoked or applied directly to a wound, the plant isn’t poisonous. However, when eaten, it can lead to severe sickness and even death. The infamous belladonna was also used in and around the Mediterranean for the same purpose. This shows the desperation of the ancients for pain relief when they had no beer, wine, opium, or other intoxicating substances available.
7Modern AnesthesiaPhoto credit: Bodley library
On Christmas Eve 1298, an Italian physician reached back for an old remedy to assist with his pain from surgery. His name was Theodoric of Lucca, and he had published many medical works, even about veterinary science, before finalizing his magnum opus, Surgery, in 1266.
While his father, Hugh, had used opium to treat pain as well, Theodoric would soak sponges in opium and hold them under the nose of the patient as a means to administer the drug to the brain. That way, the patient could more fully feel the effects.
Theodoric’s authorship was a turning point in the history of anesthesia that would begin to shape how the medical field dealt with patients’ pain. Although other surgeons had used opium dating back to at least 4000 BC, Theodoric canonized it in the medical literature.
6EtherPhoto credit: diethylether.weebly.com
In 1540, German botanist Valerius Cordus would synthesize ether, a clear liquid that emits a strong vapor. Ether is a highly flammable gas, which proved to be a serious problem for doctors trying to focus intently and carry out operations by candlelight.
One wrong gust of wind, and the whole operating theater could go up in flames. Ether was a dangerous substance, but it was preferable to nothing in the eyes of many.
Although Cordus was credited with the synthesis of ether, Paracelsus, a rebellious German-Swiss physician who rejected contemporary medicine and the traditional teachings of medical school, would study it further. He noted that it rendered chickens unconscious.
While testing ether on animals, Paracelsus also discovered that it had the analgesic properties that physicians and scientists of the day were trying to find. And just like that, both rudimentary medical chemistry and the hunt for the best anesthetic were born.
5Nitrous OxidePhoto credit: Joseph Priestley
Next time you find yourself in the dentist’s chair having a laugh after the good doctor administers nitrous oxide, feel free to thank a man born in England in 1733. Political theorist and scientist Joseph Priestly first identified the substance in 1772.
His work, Experiments and Observations on Different Kinds of Air, was written in a massive six-volume series as Priestly worked tirelessly at his studies. In all, he is said to have discovered 10 new gases. However, there is some controversy over whether he was the first to identify oxygen.
In 1800, Humphry Davy conducted experiments by inhaling nitrous oxide himself and noting the way it made him laugh hysterically. He further explored its use for painless surgery on animals, though his work didn’t have much of an impact on the medical community of the day.
About 20 years later, Samuel Cooley of America hurt himself while under the influence of the substance and noticed that he wasn’t in much pain, if any. And thus, nitrous oxide became a staple anesthetic for centuries to come.
4ChloroformPhoto credit: Kevin King
In 1831, an invention rocked the world of anesthesia. Chloroform was independently produced by Samuel Guthrie in the United States and Eugene Soubeiran in France. This chemical compound had a powerful narcotic effect which was capable of knocking people completely unconscious.
On November 4, 1847, James Young Simpson was the first to put himself into a complete stupor, perhaps even rendering himself unconscious with it. Thus, chloroform as a means to help with major medical practices was born.
At the time, chloroform killed about 1 in every 3,000 patients, making it medically unsafe. Of course, this didn’t stop anyone. It became a chic medical anesthetic in the Victorian era, with Queen Elizabeth even going so far as to be chloroformed during the birth of her son. From there, its use spread widely in the UK and America.
3MorphinePhoto credit: Gaius Cornelius
Morphine was first isolated in 1804 from opium and took considerable time to get off the ground. This was largely because the first tests of morphine on animals were almost invariably lethal. Later, Friedrich Wilhelm Serturner, the man who discovered morphine, used the substance on himself in smaller doses and found the results quite pleasant.
After the invention of the hypodermic needle, morphine became a viable option in the treatment of pain and was produced commercially. It wasn’t long before the addictive properties of morphine were revealed, especially in former soldiers.
Morphine addiction was nicknamed “the soldier’s disease,” and some restrictions were applied over the course of the late 1800s and early 1900s. But morphine was never wholly banned and is still used in medical practices today.
2HeroinPhoto credit: Mpv_51
It wasn’t until 1895 that the Bayer company of Germany finally released heroin to the market as a painkiller, though it was first synthesized from morphine in 1874. However, almost nothing was done with heroin for about 20 years until it was resynthesized by a man in Germany named Felix Hoffman.
In approximately 25 years, the problems associated with heroin were realized. In the US alone, an estimated 200,000 people were already addicted to the drug. The United States banned it, long before many other drugs like cocaine and LSD became illegal.
At that point, heroin use went largely underground and had its ebbs and flows in popularity. But it is still used illicitly to numb pain of all sorts, both physical and emotional.
Since the introduction of heroin, many more opioid drugs have been released on the market, creating what some would call an epidemic. We now have anesthetics that don’t stem from opium as a base, such as ketamine and many others.
Anesthesiology is a complex science and field of study, with the continuing development of new drugs and careful consideration as to how best to alleviate pain. Although there are other options currently and the promise of better drugs in the future, products derived from the opium poppy have long remained the staple when it comes to pain relief and anesthesia for surgical procedures.
Still, we should feel quite accomplished. Anesthesia mortality rates have dropped dramatically. As previously mentioned, chloroform killed 1 in every 3,000 patients in the 1800s. By the 1980s, the number of patients dying from anesthesia had declined to 1 in every 5,000 patients. By 1999, the death rate was more like 1 in 200,000–300,000.
The practice of anesthesia and thus surgery has become significantly safer over the centuries. Technological advancements have been made, and procedures are quite different. Still, we find ourselves largely doing what our ancestors did thousands of years ago to relieve surgical pain.
10 Border Walls No One Talks About OLIVER TAYLOR AUGUST 19, 2018 When we talk of border walls, the first ones that come to mind are the Berlin Wall, the North and South Korea Wall, and the …