Black History Month 2022

law

First Use of Race in Law



Jamestown, Virginia - Race was used for the first time in law. Hugh Davis, a white male, had sex with a black woman. The penalty was whipping of Hugh Davis in front of black people and whites. No penalty was stated for the black woman.

Fugitive Slave Act of 1793



Philadelphia, Pennsylvania - The United States Congress passed the Fugitive Slave Act of 1793. It was signed into law, by George Washington. It was the first law to make the United States a legal slave state.

The United States Constitution made slavery the basis for a new nation. However, there was no law to enforce slavery. This Act made slavery a legal right, with force of law.

This Act made 'free' black people into a legal under-class. More than that, no black person had legal citizenship, in the United States. At any time, free or not, a black person had to show documents of their status, to any white who demanded them.

The Act only required a claim that a black person was a slave. Once the claim was accepted in a court of law, the black person was legally a slave. Without legal proof, any black person was a slave, in the United States. With legal proof, a black person still did not have status as a citizen of the United States.

The Act made all black people into classes of human property. The Act NEVER used the words, slave, slavery, enslavement, bondage, nor forced labor.

United States Banned African Slaves



Washington, D. C. - Thomas Jefferson signed the Act Prohibiting Importation of Slaves. It went into effect, January 1st, 1808.

This did not abolish slavery. It did not emancipate the enslaved. It only made the entry of enslaved people, into the United States, illegal.

Slave Trade Act 1807



London, England - The Parliament of the United Kingdom passed An Act for the Abolition of the Slave Trade. This Act ended the Transatlantic Slave Trade, by law, in the United Kingdom.

Great Britain stopped slavery, in 1772, in the country. It was due to a ruling from Somerset's Case, of that year. It was ruled that slavery had no place on English soil. This had no effect on slavery in the British colonies. The law that barred it in the colonies came later, in 1833.

After the United States formed, the African slave trade became less profitable for Britain. Its slave sugar colonies in the Caribbean needed lots of support. Sugar competition, from Spanish Cuba and Portuguese Brazil hurt. Add to that, Britain needed its navy for its India colonies.

British-made sugar was a costly effort. Instead, Britain found that trade, with Portugal and Spain, for their sugar was better. British finished goods were sent to pay for the sugar. This led to more profit for Britain. At the same time, Napoleon saw how it helped Britain. He wanted it stopped. Britain also controlled sugar refining. Napoleon wanted that too.

The demands on the navy, by Britain, were many. There were the Napoleonic Wars (1803-1815). Britain wanted to protect its India project. The navy, of Britain, had to secure trade routes with Cuban and Brazilian slave colonies. African slave trading was more trouble than it was worth by 1807. So, it was stopped, by law.

Fugitive Slave Act of 1850



Washington, D. C. - The Fugitive Slave Act of 1850 became law. It was signed by President Millard Fillmore. It was part of the Compromise of 1850.

This Act gave more power to slave catchers when black people fled across state lines. The Act opened a loophole. It became possible for a slave catcher to enslave 'free' black people. It began with a filed court complaint. If it satisfied the court, the 'free' black person was enslaved.

The Act of 1793 was more limited. Once a black person fled across state lines, a slave catcher had to bear the full cost. The slave catcher was only allowed to enter that state, to capture. There was no duty for anyone to help, in the other state.

The Act of 1850 gave more power to the slave catcher. They had the power to demand help. Court officers had to assist, if asked. Part of the cost, was paid out of the U. S. Treasury.

The slave catcher was able to file a criminal complaint against anyone who refused to help. Those who helped black people were open to criminal punishment. This included a financial penalty.

On June 28th, 1864, the Act was repealed.

This act inspired Harriet Beecher Stowe to write the book, Uncle Tom's Cabin.

Source:

1850 Fugitive Slave Act

Dred Scott Case Decided



Washington, D. C. - Dred Scott v. Sandford was decided, by the United States Supreme Court. Sandford was a clerical error on the case. The real name was Sanford.

Dred Scott was born in 1799, in Virginia, enslaved. Scott's enslaver was Peter Blow. In 1818, Blow moved to Huntsville, Alabama. He took Scott and five (5) other enslaved people with him. Blow farmed, with Scott, until 1830.

In 1830, Blow moved to St. Louis, Missouri. Blow sold Scott to U.S. Army surgeon, Dr. John Emerson. Emerson sent Scott to Fort Armstrong, in Illinois. At the time, Illinois was a 'free' state.

Illinois had no law for slavery, in its state constitution. Yet, the Fugitive Slave Act of 1793 made slave catching legal in 'free' states. This gave whites the power to enslave 'free' blacks and send them to slave states. 'Free' states never punished slave owners in its borders.

In 1836, Emerson moved. He took Scott, to Fort Snelling in the Wisconsin territory (now Minnesota). It was a 'free' territory. There, Scott married Harriet Robinson. She was enslaved, to a different white man.

On February, 1838, Emerson was sent to Fort Jesup in Louisiana. There, Emerson married Eliza Irene Sanford. Scott and Robinson stayed in the Wisconsin territory. Emerson hired out their services while he was away.

In Louisiana, Emerson sent for Scott and Robinson. On the way, Robinson gave birth to Eliza. Eliza was born on the Mississippi River, in 'free' territory. It is unclear how Emerson enslaved Robinson.

In late 1838, Emerson returned to Fort Snelling. In 1840, Sanford took Scott and Robinson to St. Louis, Missouri.

By 1843, Emerson had left the army. He died in Iowa territory. Sanford, his wife, inherited his entire estate. This included Scott and Robinson.

In 1846, Scott tried to buy his family's freedom from Sanford, but she refused. Scott went to court. Since Scott's family had been in 'free' areas, he said they should be free.

The United States Supreme Court ruled against Scott. They ruled only whites were United States citizens. Black people, free or not, were subjects of white rule. Enslaved black people were merchandise. No black person, mulatto, nor Indian was a citizen.

The court hoped to settle the slave question. Instead, it set the stage for the American Slavery War (1861-1865).

Source:

Full Dred Scott Decision & Opinions

Freedmen's Bureau Created



Washington, D. C. - The Bureau of Refugees, Freedmen, and Abandoned Lands was signed into law by Abraham Lincoln. It became part of the War Department (called the Defense Department after 1949).

The supposed goal of the Act was to help freed black people find relief and become self-sufficient. Since it was a product of the Slavery War, the bill was to expire after one (1) year.

Major General Oliver Otis Howard was the first commissioner of the bureau. This is the same Howard that helped found Howard Seminary (later, Howard University).

A second Freedmen's bill was passed in 1866, which extended the duration of the Bureau until 1868.

In 1872, the Bureau closed.

Source:

Freedmen's Bureau

Otis Howard

Black Codes Began



Jackson, Mississippi - The state government passed 'An Act to regulate the relation of master and apprentice, as relates to freedmen, free negroes, and mulattoes..'

Among other limits, the law sent black children to whites for unpaid work. It was slavery, under the guise of child welfare.

Source:

Mississippi Black Codes

The Vagrancy Act of 1866



Richmond, Virginia - The General Assembly of Virginia passed the Vagrancy Act of 1866. It was an attempt to re-enslave black people after the Slavery (Civil) War. The all-white government of Virginia made it a crime if an adult had no job.

On January 24, 1866, Alfred H. Terry commanded the U. S. Army in Virginia. He made a proclamation that forbade the law from being enforced, in the state.

The actions of the General Assembly led to Reconstruction of the South. It was clear white, defeated Southerners had no intention to obey Federal laws after the Slavery war. At least, this was the case when it came to black people.

Source:

Vagrancy Act Full Transcript

Vagrancy Act of 1866

Background - Vagrancy Act of 1866

Civil Rights Act of 1866



Washington, D. C. - The Civil Rights Act of 1866 passed. It promised equal rights to black people, with whites, after slavery. It came before the Fourteenth Amendment, which adopted much of its language.

The law made it a crime to deprive black people of their rights. It was a misdemeanor, if convicted.

Source:

1866 Civil Rights Bill

Buffalo Soldiers Act Passed



Washington, D. C. - The Buffalo Soldiers came from the 'Act to increase and fix the Military Peace Establishment on the United States.' It was drawn from black soldiers who served in the Slavery War.

Source:

Buffalo Soldiers Act p.332 (364)

Howard University Founded



Washington D. C. - A gathering of white church members met to create a school for missionaries in the South and Africa. It began as a Seminary.

Later, Major General Oliver Otis Howard was brought into the plan. Howard was known as a christian fundamentalist and was head of the Freedmen's Bureau.

On March 2, 1867, a Charter was approved by Congress. It was signed into law by President Andrew Johnson. This Act created Howard University.

On May 1, 1867, Howard University opened its doors to students. The first students were all white women. Two were daughters of the founders.

The initial reason for the school was to train black preachers. However, all were allowed to attend. Over 100,000 freed black people were served by the school.

Howard University is still in operation, as of 2021.

Source:

Act to Establish The Howard University

Origin of The Howard University

Howard University history

Howard University Founded



Washington D. C. - A gathering of white church members met to create a school for missionaries in the South and Africa. It began as a Seminary.

Later, Major General Oliver Otis Howard was brought into the plan. Howard was known as a christian fundamentalist and was head of the Freedmen's Bureau.

On March 2, 1867, a Charter was approved by Congress. It was signed into law by President Andrew Johnson. This Act created Howard University.

On May 1, 1867, Howard University opened its doors to students. The first students were all white women. Two were daughters of the founders.

The initial reason for the school was to train black preachers. However, all were allowed to attend. Over 100,000 freed black people were served by the school.

Howard University is still in operation, as of 2021.

Source:

Act to Establish The Howard University

Origin of The Howard University

Howard University history

First Enforcement Act



Washington, D. C. - The Civil Rights Act of 1870 was the first of the enforcement acts passed. It was to protect the rights of those formerly enslaved, to vote.

This was the first law that enforced the Fifteenth Amendment. It was an attempt to stop the Ku Klux Klan, the Knights of the Camellia, and other white supremacist groups that attacked black people.

Source:

1870 Civil Rights Act - 1st Force Act

Justice Department Signed Into Law



Washington, D. C. - President Ulysses Grant signed the Act to Establish the Department of Justice. It was formed to enforce the laws of the post-Slavery War era. These included the 13th, 14th, and 15th Amendments. It was also a way to stop the Ku Klux Klan.

Source:
Birth of the Justice Department

Second Enforcement Act



Washington, D. C. - This Act amended the Civil Rights Act of 1870. It made it a crime to stop black people from being registered to vote. It put National elections under the control of the Federal government. Voters for elected officials for Federal(not State) office were protected under Federal law.

This was the Second Enforcement Act of the Fifteenth Amendment.

Source:

Second Enforcement Act

Third Enforcement Act



Washington, D. C. - The Civil Rights Act of 1871, was the third (and final) enforcement act of the Reconstruction Era. It was to enforce the Fourteenth Amendment.

This act was meant to stop the Ku Klux Klan, White League, and other white supremacists. They attacked duly elected officers of the United States. This act made it a crime that included fines, jail time, and possible civil action.

None of the enforcement acts were ever used to protect black people, despite their intent. The United States Supreme Court stopped any chance of that in the case of United States v. Cruikshank.

Source:

Civil Rights Act of 1871

Federal Protection for Black People Ended



Washington, D. C. - Posse Comitatus was passed which ended Federal protection for black people in the South. It was a result of the compromise of 1877, that gave Rutherford B. Hayes the presidency. Hayes signed the law.

The Reconstruction Acts and Enforcement Acts were passed to protect the rights of black people, from traitorous whites, in the South. President Ulysses S. Grant used the military to enforce the law and uphold the Thirteenth, Fourteenth, and Fifteenth Amendments.

Black people were attacked and killed for voting, assembling, and holding office, by whites. President Ulysses S. Grant used the Army to protect the rights of black people, in the South. Yet, Grant gave up on black people to help the Republican party in Ohio, in 1875.

The governor of Ohio, that won the election, in 1875, was Rutherford B. Hayes. From that point, the Republicans made a further deal to sacrifice black people in the 1876 Presidential election. It made Rutherford B. Hayes the first Democrat elected since the Slavery War.

The deal made between the Republican and Democrat party led to the law that ended Federal protection for black people in the South.

Source:

Posse Comitatus - p.190 Section 15

Corporations Got Civil Rights



Washington, D. C. - The United States Supreme Court gave civil rights to corporations. The case was Santa Clara County v. Southern Pacific Railroad Company (1886). This decision made a legal fiction (corporation) equal to a United States citizen.

Civil Rights protections were meant for black people. It was meant to unite the nation after the Slavery War. The Thirteenth, Fourteenth, and Fifteenth Amendments do not use 'corporation.'

The Fourteenth Amendment used 'persons' in its text. The Supreme Court decided 'persons' included corporations. This gave corporations protection under the U. S. Constitution. The decision was unanimous.

Black citizens can be hurt and jailed, but not corporations. The United States Supreme Court made no distinction. Corporations had all the benefits of law, without all the risk.

Plessy v. Ferguson Decided



Washington, D. C. - The United States Supreme Court decided black people can be legally segregated in America. This decision made state segregation laws into national law. Black Americans were made into legal second-class citizens, nationwide.

It all began, in Covington, Louisiana. A passenger was denied access to the white section of a train. Since the rider was 7/8 th white, he was told to go to the black section. He refused and was arrested, under the Jim Crow Car Act of 1890.

Once the United States Supreme Court decided the case, it set several key precedents.

The state had sole power to decide who is black or white.

The Thirteenth (13th) and Fourteenth (14th) Amendments gave no protection to black people against legal segregation.

Segregation of black people had not harmed them.

The government owed no debt to black people, if harmed by segregation.

Black People Denied the Vote



Washington, D. C. - The United States Supreme Court decided States had the power to stop black people from voting.

In the case, Giles v. Harris, Alabama law blocked black people from voter registration. Alabama made a new constitution that required tests to be registered to vote.

The tests were given only by whites. The tests blocked all black people. Jackson W. Giles was a black man who wanted to vote. He joined 5,000 other black people who wanted the same. Giles sued in court.

The Federal District Court dismissed the case on procedure. The amount of damages was too small. The case was appealed. It reached the United States Supreme Court. The Court held the law was legal.

The Mann Act Went Into Effect



Washington, D. C. - The Mann Act, or White-Slave Traffic Act, became law. It was passed to stop black boxing champion Jack Johnson from travelling with the white woman, Lucille Cameron.

Whites tried to use Cameron to make a case against Johnson. She refused to help. Whites went to Belle Schreiber. She was a white woman Johnson knew before the Mann Act had passed (1909 and early 1910). In court, she said Johnson was with her. An all-white jury convicted Johnson of being with a white woman.

To escape jail, Johnson fled the country, for seven (7) years. When he came back, federal agents arrested him. Johnson was sent to the Federal prison in Leavenworth, Kansas. He was behind bars from September 1920, until July 9, 1921.

Social Securiy Act Excluded Black People



Washington, D. C. - President Franklin Roosevelt signed the Social Security Act into law. It excluded 65% of the black workforce, at the time. They were farm laborers and domestic workers (Title II Sec. 210). This was Roosevelt's Second New Deal.

The law never covered the work most black people did. Most black men worked on farms. Black women worked in the homes of white women. It was normal for black people to get the most menial and back-breaking jobs. The law made sure to ignore them when it came time to get public support.

At a time of Jim Crow and the Great Depression, this new law only hurt black labor in the nation. It gave benefits to whites who already had major benefits and support over black people.

No black person was at the signing of the Social Security Act.

Source:

Original Social Security Act of 1935

Social Security Act

Rewriting History By the Social Security Administration

Fair Labor Standards Act Denied Black People



Washington, D. C. - President Franklin Roosevelt signed the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) of 1938, into law. The FLSA blocked farm workers. It did not cover domestic workers. At the time, about 65% of black people were farm and domestic workers. The FLSA left them without any legal safeguards.

The FLSA was another piece to Roosevelt's New Deal. With Congress, he helped whites and excluded black people. Not until 1966 were some farm workers given help under the FLSA. This was well after many black people had left the farms for the factories. Domestic workers were added, in 1974.

Sources:
Original - Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938
Racist Exclusions of the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938

Jim Crow Upheld on Trains



Washington, D. C. - The United States Supreme Court upheld race based segregation of passengers on trains (Mitchell v. United States). Arthur Wergs Mitchell was the plaintiff. He was the first black Congressman, to win as a Democrat.

On the evening of April 20th, 1937, Mitchell traveled on a train in 1st class, from Chicago. As the train passed through Arkansas, the conductor moved Mitchell to the colored car. Mitchell objected. The conductor threatened him with arrest, if he didn't move.

Mitchell moved to the colored car. He filed suit. The case went to the United States Supreme Court. The decision required interstate trains to provide the same segregated service to both black and white customers.

Source:

Arthur Wergs Mitchell

Circular 3591 - Slavery Made Illegal



Washington, D. C. - The United States government decided to criminally prosecute cases of slavery. This included debt peonage, and other forms of involuntary servitude. This did not include imprisonment.

White prosecutors avoided slavery cases. Too often, a case was dropped because the prosecutor declined to prosecute. Before this circular, no one was ever convicted for the enslavement of black Americans.

The GI Bill Passed



Washington, D. C. - The GI Bill was the Servicemen's Readjustment Act of 1944. President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed it into law.

In 1944, the United States military was segregated. The GI Bill was written to support legal segregation when the black veterans returned.

This Act provided 4 major benefits. Veterans got low-cost mortgages. There were low-interest loans to start a business or farm. One (1) year of unemployment compensation went to veterans. And, there were dedicated payments of tuition and living expenses. This was for high school, college, or vocational school.

Over one (1) million black men returned from World War 2. Under the Act, these black veterans were due these benefits. But, they were blocked from most of them.

Banks denied low-cost, zero down-payment home loans to black veterans. From 67,000 mortgages, less than 100 in New York and northern New Jersey went to black veterans.

The GI Bill helped black veterans get an education. But, the gap, between blacks and whites, got worse. Whites got college degrees while black veterans got high school diplomas.

There were not enough segregated schools for black veterans. White schools denied black veterans admission. Whites had full access to higher education degrees and benefits. Black veterans were denied access to these same white colleges and schools.

Almost all black veterans were denied the low-interest loans to start a business or a farm. This was despite what was promised in the GI Bill.

Brown v. Board of Education Decided



Washington, D. C. - The United States Supreme Court decided school segregation of students was illegal. Ir was ruled a violation of the Equal Protection clause of the Fourteenth Amendment.

Brown was not the only school segregation case considered. It included cases from Kansas, Delaware, South Carolina, and Virginia. They were all rolled into one decision.

There was one key question. 'Does the racial segregation of children in school deprive them of an equal education?' The U. S. Supreme Court decided yes.

It was not until the 1960s, that schools began to desegregate in number. The process was slow by 1965 and was never fully realized. Schools are still very segregated.

Whites challenged integration and protested. White parents left integrated schools, as 'bad' schools. Or, whites called neighborhoods 'bad' if there were too many black children.

A tragedy of the decision is that it destroyed all-black schools. By the time of the decision, many of these schools had unique cultures that catered to black students. That disappeared.

Many black teachers, principals, and administrators lost their jobs. White schools rarely hired them. If black people were hired, it was into a hostile setting. They were undermined by white teachers, administrators, school boards, and the white students.

Today, the damage of this decision is seen today. When the students are mostly black, the hand giving the grade, is often white (or at least not black). It has led to decades of poor performance, low graduation rates, and high delinquency.

Little Rock School Desegregation



Little Rock, Arkansas - Nine black teenagers were to attend the all-white Central High School. An angry white mob and the National Guard stopped them from going to school.

The United States Supreme Court ruled that exclusions based on race had no legal effect. On September 3, 1957, a Federal judge ruled that the students had instant access to attend classes at the then all-white school. Despite this, the Arkansas Governor blocked the black students from the school.

One of the black students, Elizabeth Eckford, tried to go to the school. She recalled what happened that day. 'They moved closer and closer. ... Somebody started yelling. ... I tried to see a friendly face somewhere in the crowd—someone who maybe could help. I looked into the face of an old woman and it seemed a kind face. But, when I looked at her again, she spat on me.'

1965 Voting Rights Act Signed



Washington, D. C. - President Lyndon Baines Johnson signed the Voting Rights Act of 1965.

Source:

Voting Rights Act

Mass Incarceration Began



Washington, D. C. - The Comprehensive Crime Control Act of 1984 was signed into law. It took immediate effect. This was the first Federal law that began the era of Mass Incarceration. It targeted black men and boys, for jail and prison.

This act enabled the notorious mandatory minimum sentences. It eliminated Federal parole. Civil forfeiture powers were expanded.

The second act was the Anti-Drug Abuse Act of 1986. It created the 100:1 sentencing disparity between crack and powder cocaine. Black people were charged with crack. Whites were charged with powder cocaine. Black people suffered 100 times longer time in jail and prison compared to whites, for the same act.

The third act was the Anti-Drug Abuse Act of 1988. It restored the death penalty to Federal sentences, which focused on black men.

The final act of Federal law, was the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act (1994). It expanded the Federal Death Penalty. Higher education for inmates was eliminated. The three-strikes provision was added to court sentences.

Anti-Drug Abuse Act of 1986



Washington, D. C. - President Ronald Reagan signed the Anti-Drug Abuse Act of 1986. This began the 100:1 sentencing disparity between crack cocaine and powder cocaine.

This was the second of three Mass Incarceration Acts of the 1980s and 1990s. In 1984, the first brought mandatory-minimum sentences. 1994, the third and last brought 3 strikes.

By 2002, it was clear the Anti-Drug Abuse Act was almost entirely meant for black people. 85% of inmates, in prison on the 100:1 sentencing, were black people.

Source:

Reagan Spoke on Anti-Drug Abuse Act

Report on Anti-Drug Abuse Act

Joe Biden Promoted Crime Bill



Washington, D. C. - Future President, Joe Biden, made comments for what became the 1994 Crime Bill. This was the last new bill of the Mass Incarceration era.

Biden called Americans 'predators' and wanted them in jail. He called them criminals and single mothers and disadvantaged. He used all the racial code words of the Reagan and Nixon eras. Biden made it clear the police and sheriffs wanted this bill. Black people who were the targets of the bill were not asked about it, before it was written.

This Crime Bill sent hundreds of thousands of black men to jail, for non-violent drug crimes. It exploded jail and prison numbers. The cost, in public funds, was hundreds of billions of dollars.

Source:

Joe Biden Crime Bill

1994 Crime Bill Signed Into Law



Washington, D. C. - President William Clinton signed into law the most expansive crime bill in United States history. It vastly increased funding for jails and prisons. Higher education for prisoners was stopped. The death penalty was now possible for more crimes.

The law had a 3-strikes section. Someone who was convicted 3 times of a crime, could face up to life behind bars. One of the crimes had to be a major violent felony. The other two crimes did not matter. Whether it was minor theft or a major felony, the third sentence in prison was severe.

The official name was the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act of 1994. It is also called the Clinton Crime Bill or the Biden Crime Law.

The Violence Against Women Act was Title IV of this legislation. It was based on the black man rapist trope. It was created by whites, after slavery, as an excuse to lynch (murder) and castrate black men, without punishment. There was no provision for false rape accusations (Brian Banks story).

This law created the final form of mass incarceration that exists today.

President Clinton Signed Telecommunictations Act of 1996



Washington, D. C. - President William J. Clinton signed the Telecommunications Act of 1996 into law. It went into effect the moment it was signed. Over the next ten years, this law that destroyed black mass media stations across the country.

Before this law, there were black radio stations across the country. The previous law, the Telecommunications Act of 1934, made it hard for large, white companies to enter black markets. Congress and President Clinton made a way to get around this. It led to the strict control of mass media by only a handful of large, white companies.

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