After the disputed election of 1876 and the end of Reconstruction, White Americans in the South resumed political control of the region under a one-party system of Democratic control. The voting rights of blacks were increasingly suppressed, racial segregation imposed, and violence against African Americans mushroomed. This period is often referred to as the “nadir of American race relations,” and while it was most intense in the South to a lesser degree it affected the entire nation. The system of overt, state-sanctioned racial discrimination and oppression that emerged out of the post-Reconstruction South and spread nation-wide became known as the “Jim Crow” system, and it remained virtually intact into the early 1950s. Systematic disenfranchisement of African Americans took place in Southern states at the turn of the century and lasted until national civil rights legislation was passed in the mid-1960s. For more than 60 years, they were not able to elect one person in the South to represent their interests. Because they could not vote, they could not sit on juries limited to voters. They had no part in the justice system or law enforcement, although in the 1880s, they had held many local offices, including that of sheriff.
- Racial segregation. By law, public facilities and government services such as education were divided into separate and unequal “white” and “colored” domains.
- Disenfranchisement. When White American Democrats regained power, they passed laws that made voter registration more complicated. Black voters were forced off the voting rolls, and the number of African-Americans elected to office decreased. From 1890 to 1908, Southern states of the former Confederacy created constitutions with provisions that disfranchised most African Americans and, in many cases, poor White Americans.
- Exploitation. Increased economic oppression of blacks, Latinos, and Asians, denial of economic opportunities, and widespread employment discrimination.
- Violence. Individual, police, organizational, and mass racial violence against blacks (and Latinos in the Southwest and Asians in California).