Some Factors that Increased Racism


The Dred Scott Supreme Court Decision (1857), in which the Chief Justice said that blacks had no rights that white men had to honor because they were not citizens, raised opposition to slavery. This decision would lead the John Brown’s Raid on the federal arsenal at Harpers Ferry Virginia. John Brown was adamant in his belief that slavery was an evil institution. In the aftermath of his raid white terrorism increased.  In 1860, the same year Abraham Lincoln was elected, there was a wave of racist vigilantism. This was the result of fires in the central portion of Dallas. Southern states by this time were looking for any excuse to rebel against the United States and this would be the last straw for slave owners coupled with the election of Lincoln.


The fires were blamed on Lincolnites (people in the South that supported Abraham Lincoln), abolitionists, and slaves without any proof (Reynolds, 2007). The “Texas Terror” that was generated with false written accusations created a panic that was exported across the South in a newspaper edited by Charles Pryor. Blacks and whites were hanged by vigilante mobs across the State of Texas as a result of this fabricated story. The Republicans of that era were somewhat liberal while the Democrats were conservative. This is the reversal of what it is today. This old age fake news tactic was useful to conservatives that were yeasting up the call for secession and to dramatize hatred of blacks and others. Southern newspapers, in carrying the invented panic to their readers, were able to use fear by claiming that fires might be set in their communities. In addition, the ploy of claiming that the “sunny daughters of the South” might be raped by black men was a rallying point for those infected with racial thinking.


In the Supreme Court Case of Plessy vs. Ferguson (1896) segregation became legal thus increasing the number of white only schools, hospitals, theatres, restaurants, libraries, graveyards (even segregated pet cemeteries of pets owned by whites), the building of Confederate monuments, parks, and other segregated public areas.  During WWI black soldiers often thought they would be treated better after serving in the military. When they returned home from the battle fields of Europe they were faced with increased hatred. In 1916, Jesse Washington was publically beaten, burned, lynched, and dismembered before thousand of approving onlookers in Waco, Texas while black soldiers were hung at Ft Sam Houston for standing up to white supremacy in Houston a year or so later. Many blacks believed that while President Wilson was trying to make the world safe for democracy, there was no democracy in a segregated society. Many blacks refused to be drafted and went to Canada and Mexico (Kornweilbel, Jr., 2002).


When Jack Johnson (1910) became the first black heavy weight champion defeating what the newspapers labeled “The Great White Hope” racialized whites rioted and killed or injured blacks across the country. During the Mexican Revolution (1910) Pancho Villa invaded Columbus, New Mexico and killed many whites (Welsome, 2006). This incident resulted in increased discrimination and violence against Mexican Americans and blacks. Segregation, lynching, the burning of black townships (Hirsch, 2002), burning at the stake (Bills, 2015), and illegal arrests that forced blacks back into slavery years after the Civil War (Blackmon, 2008) forced blacks to start looking for assistance on a global level. The 1915 Movie Birth of a Nation, increased hatred for blacks, and led to violence and the miseducation of millions of white Americans.  This film used racist stereotypes to hail the KKK as the “savior of the white race.” The film was viewed by President Wilson at the White House.





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