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It was a white man dressed in blackface performing a mocking rendition about black life. In post Civil War days Jim Crow came to refer to local laws and customs designed to enforce segregation and prevent blacks from gaining any political, social or economic power.While the North made some inroads towards desegregation, the Jim Crow mentality persevered throughout the country. This concept was further buttressed by the 1896 Supreme Court decision of Plessy v Ferguson which declared that separate but equal facilities were constitutional.By the early 1900s, Jim Crow had grown to monstrous proportions.The dehumanizing “Colored Only” and “Whites Only” signs began to appear on the scene.With each passing generation the indignities built up until a cement-like hatred permeated society.Because Reconstruction was such an abysmal failure, we would have to do it all over again in the 1950s and ‘60s.As time went on it became more and more apparent that there was little opportunity to be found in the South for blacks and that their newfound freedom was mostly illusionary.Since blacks owned no land, did not control government or provide jobs, they wound up working for the very people who once owned them.
Southern blacks who eventually migrated north during the 1900s wished to leave the misery they experienced in the South behind for good.After General Sherman’s March to the Sea was concluded, he solicited the advice of former slaves on how best to facilitate them in the postwar South.A black preacher advised him to give each free slave “40 acres and a mule.” Acting upon this, Sherman began granting ex-slaves abandoned plantation lands.The summer of 1943 found the United States embroiled in the worst war in world history and the industrial might of Detroit was playing an integral part in winning it.Common during times of war, domestic hatreds and tensions grip entire communities, bringing out the best and worst even among allies.