Questions for Class of 22 February 2007


 Klarman:  From Jim Crow to Civil Rights


Questions by Abraham Samuel Shiff


Sites to visit:


Sheriff Shipp:







1.  The Plessy Era:

1.1  What were the conditions which permitted segregation and disenfranchisement after the Civil War?

1.2  How was the court system rendered impotent at this time?

1.3  Can the situation be expressed in the terms of “local” politics versus “national” politics?

1.4  What issues of class were in play within the white community which promoted segregation and disenfranchisement, and how did this play out nationally?

1.5  Why was the strategy of separate but equal defensible in the courts?

1.6  Do the practices of the Plessy era’s South’s unequal allocation of taxes dollars to fund black populations with proper educational opportunities, continue to echo today by New York State’s manner of unequal funding of education in New York City’s school system?


2.  The Progressive Era:

2.1  What strategies were used to further disenfranchisement, unfair labor practices and discrimination and residential segregation of blacks during the so-called Progressive Era, as a continuation of what occurred during the Plessy era?

2.2  Did the courts attempt to undo the strategies by declaring them unconstitutional?

2.3  The author states (p. 82) “”White supremacy depended less on law than on entrenched social  mores, backed by economic power and the threat and reality of violence.”  Were there any attempts by the court s of the time to deal with this?

2.4  Why was Progressive  Era litigations the only effective mechanism for the protest of discrimination at the time?


3. The Interwar Period:

3.1  How did the Great Depression and the Great Migration effect the process of changing discriminatory practices?

3.2  What barriers were faced in bringing appeals to the Supreme Court at this time?

3.3  How did states in the South evade the requirement of equal and separate in providing blacks with access to graduate and professional education?

3.4  Did the racial status quo change in the Interwar period?

3.5  Describe the growth and the goals of the NAACP in this period.


4.  World War II Era: Context and Cases:

5.  World War II Era: Consequences

4-5.1  What were the changes which impacted upon the “local” scene where discrimination was imposed, consequential to “national” and “international” considerations and events?  What were the changing demographic events?  There are three phases to consider:

4-5.1.1  Pre-war.

4-5.1.2  During the war.

4-5.1.3. Post-war.

4-5.2  What were the impacts of technological changes which occurred at this time?

4-5.2 1  What were the impacts on the black population?

4-5.2.2  What were the impacts on the white population?

4-5.3  How did the Supreme Court change?  Did the court continue to follow precedence?

4-5.4  How ‘local’ nullification thwarted implementation of federal ‘national’ court decisions?


6.  School Desegregation

6.1  How did Brown break with hallowed judicial precedence?

6.2  What were the differences between Brown I and Brown II?

6.3  What were the situations and challenges the Supreme Court was trying to finesse?


7.  Brown and the Civil Rights Movement:

7.1  What was the importance of the NAACP in forcing desegregation forward?

7.2  What strategies were used to interfere with desegregation, such as token desegregation?

7.3  How did federal power of the purse accelerate desegregation?

7.4  How effective was the black economic boycotts?

7.5  Why were blacks able to organize direct-action mass protests, which did not happen in earlier eras?  What models were applied consequential to international decolonization movements?

7.6  What was the southern white reaction?

7.7  What was the effect of technology, i.e. television?