History: Institutional Affiliation In The United States


The Civil War culminated in substantial gains for the African American community in the United States because the then President Abraham Lincoln boldly pronounced that all people in the country were equal in the eyes of man and God. This assertion was made to integrate the black community into the mainstream American society after years of slavery and servitude. This proclamation was not received well especially in the Southern States that were dependent on slave labor for their plantations. It led to the enactment of the Jim Crow laws which effectively legislated discrimination in the country with the legal concept of separate but equal citizens. This paper will delve into how the Jim Crow laws affected the social, economic, and political lives of African Americans and the possible solutions suggested to fix these challenges by various African American historical figures.

The Jim Crow laws gave the white supremacist American society the legal authority to discriminate against African Americans without the fear of any repercussions. The separate but equal doctrine meant that as much as the black people were accepted in the society, their place in it was down the ladder as they were viewed to be an inferior race not worth of mingling with the white people. It meant that the African Americans faced backlash and discrimination in every social aspect of their lives. They were denied the right to access entertainment places like amusement parks and even public swimming pools. Some of these places had erected warning signs that were clearly against the admission of black people in their premises. The movie theaters were also a ‘separate but equal’ zones that adhered to segregation. ‘Negroes and Dogs Not Allowed’ were posters found in most social places, meaning the white society categorized the African Americans in the same level as dogs. Black people could also not access medical services as nurses were instructed to treat patients from their race. Seen as second class citizens, the African Americans were lynched on a frequent basis thanks to the Jim Crow laws. Voting centers, schools, and the public transport system were not spared from the discrimination and segregation of the Jim Crow. Even their participation in sports like baseball was restricted. It is important to note that these set of laws made life difficult for African Americans since they were meant to hinder them from succeeding in life.

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One of the historical figures found in the PSR is Booker T. Washington. He was a popular figure who had the spotlight which gave him the platform to outline the possible solutions to the problem of segregation and discrimination. The rampant violence and lynching of African Americans saw Washington, born into slavery himself, urge the white society to work with the black community for the unified progress of both races. Washington argued that it was futile for the black man to fight against segregation because it would be much simpler to accept it and work hard towards getting themselves out of the embers of society. In his ‘ Atlanta Compromise’ speech, Washington opined that his fellow black man should ‘cast down your bucket where you are – cast it down in making friends in every manly way of the people of all races by whom we are surrounded…It is at the bottom of life we must begin, and not at the top. Nor should we permit our grievances to overshadow our opportunities’ (Course Reader 13). His sentiments seemed to condone segregation especially where he argued that ‘the wisest among my race understand that the agitation of questions of social equality is the extremest folly, and that progress in the enjoyment of all the privileges that will come to us must be the result of severe and constant struggle rather than of artificial forcing’ (Course Reader 15).

Born into slavery like Booker T. Washington, Ida B. Wells chose to use her influential position as a journalist and a publisher to highlight the plight of African Americans especially the wanton lynching that was taking place in the 1890s. The crusade against lynching was both personal to her and communal to the black people after she lost three friends to the barbaric practice. This pushed her to fervently publish and highlight the ‘unwritten law’ of lynching black people in the hope that this would help in mitigating the practice. She pleaded with Memphis black people to move to the West and abandon all the segregated social spaces. She expressed the sentiments that there was an ”unwritten law’ written in the blood of thousands of brave men who thought that a government that was good enough to create a citizenship was strong enough to protect it’ (Course Reader 22). Her solution was consistent data journalism that exposed the statistics and figures of cases of lynching and their victims.

One of the most iconic historical figures to emerge in the 1880-1920 Jim Crow-era was William E. B. DuBois. He was a reputable activist who was widely respected for being the first black man to secure a doctorate degree from the Harvard University. In the quest to safeguard the interest of African Americans, DuBois was the fiercest critic to the accommodationist stance that was adopted by Booker T. Washington because he was of the opinion that the white society would not relent so easy. He firmly suggested that blacks must agitate for the full social and political equality as well as rights, not just settling for working opportunities from their white bosses.

The next influential figure in calling for the Jim Crow oppression to be ended was Marcus Garvey. He launched a national movement and a scathing attack at the white man for liberating black people partially yet each man was born free. In his assertion, all Africans whether home or abroad had the right to be free from oppression of any kind. The Africans for Africa speech urged all black people to unite and fight for their rights. In his own words, Garvey urged the people that ‘If you want liberty you yourselves must strike the blow. If you must be free you must become so through your own effort, through your own initiative. Those who have discouraged you in the past are those who have enslaved you for centuries and it is not expected that they will admit that you have a right to strike out at this late hour for freedom, liberty, and democracy. It falls to our lot to tear off the shackles that bind Mother Africa. Can you do it?’ (Course Reader 33).

Of all these influential individuals to emerge during the height of the 1880-1920 Jim Crow-era, the one who floated the most effective solution at the time was William E. B. DuBois. This is because the fight for political rights and social equality and justice was in high gear for the other disenfranchised demography in the country. These included the women who were duly granted voting rights and the immigrants whose rights were getting safeguarded. It stood to reason, therefore, that the agitation for a level political, social, and economic playing field for the black community would also result into tangible benefits for the African American people in the United States society. As far as the Jim Crow ‘cars’ were concerned, DuBois led the black people to ‘protest against the “Jim Crow” car, since its effect is and must be to make us pay first-class fare for third-class accommodations, render us open to insults and discomfort and to crucify wantonly our manhood, womanhood and self-respect’ (Course Reader 30). This was in addition to a raft of other demands to the white supremacists that included the grant of political rights and civil liberties. Through his Niagara Movement’s Declaration of Principles, he insisted that the black man was entitled to better economic opportunities and quality education like any other man. The healthcare sector, judicial system, and labor unions were other equally weighty points that DuBois insisted must be guaranteed for the black man in America.


No one can deny the gruesome, barbaric, and inhumane treatment that the African Americans underwent at the hands of the predominantly white society in the 1880s – 1920s Jim Crow-era America. Segregation, discrimination, riots, and lynching were a common occurrence in the lives of the black people even though they had been recognized as equal to other people in the society. The socio-economic and political challenges brought about by the Jim Crow laws were duly addressed by various historical figures within the black community. The essay has dwelled on the proposed solutions suggested by Ida B. Wells, Booker T. Washington, Marcus Garvey, and W. E. B. DuBois. The paper has also singled out DuBois’ solution to the Jim Crow laws as the ideal at the time because of the rights and privileges that were being granted to other minority groups within the American society.

Introduction To Criminology: Hate Crimes In The United States


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Hate crimes have been rampant throughout much of human history. Some of the first documented crimes were perpetrated by the Roman Emperor Nero, who blamed Christian worshipers for a large fire that destroyed a large portion of Rome. As Nero blamed the Christians, crimes against those who believed in the Christian faith rose. (History of Hate Crime, 2017). A hate crime can be perpetuated by an individual or a group. As early as 1865, hate crimes were committed against African Americans by the Ku Klux Klan who used intimidation, weapons, and other physical means to prevent African Americans from voting or holding political office. (Herek & Berrill, 1992). Some hate crimes have been so globally devastating that they have a massive effect on the entire world. One such large scale hate crime was the annihilation of Jews in Germany led by Hitler and his Nazi regime. The Holocaust is largely regarded as one of the darkest times in human history. Yet there have been other notable acts of genocide based on ethnicity, religion, or race. (History of Hate Crime, 2017).

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More recently there has been much more focus on hate crimes targeting the African American community. The media has portrayed violence against African Americans at the hands of law enforcement. Controversial cases are those such as Eric Garner and Freddy Gray, both of whom were believed to be involved in illegal activity, however law enforcements’ over zealousness to apprehend and detain these men resulted in their deaths. More recently, actor Jussie Smollett received scrutiny over his allegation of being attacked by two white men wearing “Make America Great Again” caps in the Streeterville neighborhood of Chicago. This allegation was later found to be completely fabricated and Smollett allegedly paid two men to attack him at the time. This issue was scrutinized by the media and fans on social media alike as setting our society back in the way of preventing hate crimes.

Definition of a Hate Crime

A hate crime is considered a form of prejudice and is an act of wrongdoing perpetrated against a particular group based on characteristics such as ethnicity, age, sexual orientation, gender identity, and religion among other defining characteristics. As mentioned previously, the hate crimes originated as early as civilization itself. (History of Hate Crime, 2017). There have been many important steps taken to ensure that these crimes decrease in frequency and violence. Shortly after the book Making A Hate Crime: From Social Movement to Law Enforcement was published in 2001, the authors note that there were two very important occurrences that propelled us to where we are today. First, the first case of a hate crime to be federal prosecuted was heard in the United States. Darrell David Rice was charged federally with a hate crime by the United States Attorney General at the time, John D Ashcroft, who had previously held a press conference to announce this landmark case. Ashcroft was quoted as saying that hate crimes are counter to American beliefs. Second, the rise in anti-Muslim attacks following the September 11, 2001 event now known simply as “9/11”. (Jenness & Grattet, 2001). In addition to these incidences, there have been many federal laws and statutes that have been established in an effort to eliminate hate crimes against one group or another.

First Laws Against Hate Crimes

The first federal hate crimes statute was passed by Congress and signed into law by then President Lyndon B. Johnson in 1968. This law made it illegal to “use, or threaten to use, force to willingly interfere with any person because of race, color, religion, or national origin” or to willingly and knowingly assist in such an act. These protections were expanded upon in 1988 to protect individuals on the basis of “familial status and disability”. In 1990, the Americans with Disabilities Act was adopted to further that definition to include that those with disabilities could not legally be discriminated against. Congress passed the Church Arson Prevention Act in 1996. This act it was considered an illegal hate crime to “deface, damage, or destroy” religious property or to interfere with a person’s right to worship as they choose as covered by the First Amendment. Under this act, it is also a hate crime to deface, damage, or destroy religious property due to the race, color, or ethnicity of worshippers. (Hate Crime Laws, 2019).

Matthew Shepard and James Byrd Jr.

During his first presidential term, Barack Obama, with the support of Congress, signed into law the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd Jr. Hate Crime Prevention Act, named for the victims of deadly hate crimes. This act expanded previous federal hate crime definitions by protecting individuals based on gender, disability, gender identity, and sexual orientation. It also removed jurisdictional hindrances as it pertained to race and religion-motivated violence. (Hate Crime Laws, 2019).

Nature of Hate Crimes

James Byrd Jr. was a black man walking home from his niece’s bridal shower on the evening of June 6, 1998 when he was picked up by three white men in a pick-up truck. These men did not give any indications that they wished ill toward him, sharing beer and cigarettes until they stopped in a remote area in which they beat him. After the brutal beating, the three men tied Byrd to the back of the pick-up truck by his feet and dragged him for two and a half miles until he was decapitated. The men then left his body near a neighborhood, predominantly black, church which caused police to treat this as a hate crime. (Petersen, 2011).

Just a few months after this horrific event, Matthew Shepard met Russell Henderson and Aaron McKinney at a local college bar near the university he attended. After leaving together, the two killers took Matthew to the outskirts of their little town takings his wallet and shoes. They tied him to a fence where they beat him mercilessly. Just eighteen hours after the brutal beating, a mountain biker found Matthew Shepard who was then air lifted to a nearby hospital to be treated for his injuries. He remained in a coma for five days before passing away. (Petersen, 2011).

These examples were prosecuted as hate crimes because the motive for carrying out these vicious atrocities was purely based on race and sexual orientation respectively. Hate crimes, as previously defined, are violent crimes carried out based on the victim’s race, gender, ethnicity, gender identity, sexual orientation, or another defining characteristic. “This type of violence has taken a variety of forms, from symbolic to fatal assaults on both individuals and entire groups of people.” Unfortunately, these crimes are anything but new in the United States and globally. From slaughters of Native American people, to the Holocaust, to current crimes such as the ones detailed above, our society has been plagued with hate crimes. (Jenness & Grattet, 2001).

Extent of Hate Crimes

A report released in November of 2017 details that for the calendar year of 2016, there were a total of 7,227 hate crimes committed. According to the United States Department of Justice, between January 2017 and June 2018 the statistics for hate crimes stand as thus: there have been eight indictments and fourteen convictions for racially charged hate crimes, eight indictments and seven convictions involving attacks against places of worship, seven indictments and five convictions for other religion based hate crimes, six indictments and convictions for hate crimes on the basis of sexual orientation, and one sentence with one indictment for gender based hate crimes. (Justice News, 2018).

Hate crimes have been an unfortunate part of human history since the dawning of civilization. There has been much legislation since the 1960’s regarding what defines a hate crime as well as how these crimes should be prosecuted. A hate crime is a violent crime in which the main motive to commit said act is due to a person’s gender, sexual orientation, race, religion, or another defining characteristic. With each new law pertaining to hate crimes, there has been expansion on the meaning of a hate crime and who and what is protected under each act. The most recent piece of legislation came under President Obama, named the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd Jr. Act, or more commonly referred to as the Matthew Shepard Act. This act was signed into legislation after two men were brutally murdered just months apart, one based on his race, the other based on his sexual orientation. These landmark cases have forced our society to strive further to eliminate such tragedies.


  1. Hate Crime Laws. (2019, March 7). Retrieved April 2019, from The United States Department of Justice: https://www.justice.gov/crt/hate-crime-laws
  2. Herek, G. M., & Berrill, K. T. (1992). Hate Crimes: Confronting Violence Against Lesbians and Gay Men. SAGE Publications.
  3. History of Hate Crime. (2017). Retrieved from Crime Museum: https://www.crimemuseum.org/crime-library/hate-crime/history-of-hate-crime/
  4. Jenness, V., & Grattet, R. (2001). Making Hate a Crime. Rusell Sage Foundation.
  5. Justice News. (2018, June 29). Retrieved from The United States Department of Justice: https://www.justice.gov/opa/pr/justice-department-update-hate-crimes-prosecutions
  6. Petersen, J. (2011). Murder, the Media, and the Politics of Publc Feelings. Indian Universtiy Press.

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