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A Lesson Before Dying

Imagine living under the thumb of a legal system that failed to provide equality of rights, based on the color of one's skin. This was especially true for black's living in the South during the early 20th century. With little federal oversight and even less concern for the civil rights of minorities, the story of Jefferson in Earnest Gaines masterpiece "A Lesson Before Dying", accurately illustrates a black man's struggle for a fair legal system. But to understand the justice of today, one mustfirst examine the injustices of the past. The history of so called "Jim Crow" laws, American legal reformers, and reform law give us an insight into the history and achievements of those who dedicated their life's work to the attainment of a just legal process.
So than, who was Jim Crow anyway? Jim Crow was a generic name for any white man in black makeup, imitating black culture or music. However, when most people think of Jim Crow they think of laws, which excluded blacks from public transport and facilities, juries, jobs, and neighborhoods. Gaines effectively portrays this dichotomy throughout the novel with poignant examples of this type of discrimination even though the passage of the 13th, 14th, and 15th Amendments to the Constitution had granted blacks the same legal protections as whites. However, after 1877, and the election of Republican Rutherford B. Hayes, southern and Border States began restricting the liberties of blacks. Unfortunately for blacks, the Supreme Court helped undermine the Constitutional protections of blacks with the infamous Plessy v. Ferguson (1896) case, which legitimized Jim Crow laws and the Jim Crow way of life.
In 1890, Louisiana passed the “Separate Car Law,” which purported to aid passenger comfort by creating “equal but separate” cars for blacks and whites. This was a ruse. No public accommodations, including railway travel, provided blacks with equal faciliti…

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