Background information is provided to put the Jim Crow laws in context and explain how minorities were treated prior to the Civil War. In a few cases, the dates of specific information also have been provided. In an era of American history marked by racial segregation and anti-immigrant attitudes, Washington was an anomaly as the only state in the West, and one of only eight nationwide, without laws banning racial intermarriage. During the early to mid-twentieth century, Washington was known throughout the region and the nation for its liberal social policies. Interracial couples often traveled long distances from states with anti-miscegenation laws to marry in Washington. Source
1896: The Constitution requiring electors to read and speak English and that Indians not taxed shall never be allowed the elective franchise. Source
1912: A statute was passed noting, "If naturalized, must furnish satisfactory evidence that he is capable of reading and speaking the English language so as to comprehend the meaning of ordinary English prose." Source
1920s: Beginning in the 1920s, Seattle realtors frequently discriminated against minorities. In November 1927, the Capitol Hill development used a covenant that read: "The parties...agree each with the others that no part of the lands owned by them shall ever be used or occupied by or sold, conveyed, leased, rented or given to Negroes or any person of Negro blood." An April 1928 covenant for the Broadmoor subdivision read: "No part of said property hereby conveyed shall ever be used or occupied by any Hebrew or any person of the Ethiopian, Malay or any Asiatic race . . .." Source
1926: Racial deed restrictions in Seattle became common after 1926 when the U.S. Supreme Court validated their use. The restrictions were an enforceable contract and an owner who violated them risked forfeiting the property. Many neighborhoods prohibited the sale or rental of property to Asian Americans and Jews as well as Blacks. Source
1939: In Seattle, and although the city had none of the formal "Jim Crow" segregation laws common in the South, the result was often the same. Being black and finding a job often meant menial work and a lower standard of living. Source
Pre-1950: Article 34 of the Code of Ethics for realtors in Seattle included the following clause: "A Realtor should never be instrumental in introducing into a neighborhood a character of property or occupancy, members of any race or nationality, or any individual whose presence will clearly be detrimental to property values in that neighborhood." Voluntary agreements between realtors and homeowners continued well into the 1960s. Source
1964: Seattle voters rejected a referendum that prohibited housing discrimination. In April 1968, the city council passed an open housing ordinance, making restrictive covenants illegal. Source
Background information is provided to put the Jim Crow laws in context and explain how minorities were treated prior to the Civil War. In a few cases, the dates of specific information also have been provided. The state’s public schools had been segregated since West Virginia entered the Union in 1863. After the Brown decision, Governor William Casey Marland announced that West Virginia would follow the high court’s ruling. While some counties integrated their school systems peacefully, others were not as willing. Source
In a 1954, questionnaire issued to states by the U.S. Supreme Court in preparing its Brown v. Board of Education (347 U.S. 483) decision, West Virginia noted that the state "has no 'Jim Crow' laws, and we are not aware of any such prior laws in the statutes. The prevailing custom throughout this State has been and continues to be the catering to Caucasians only for the purpose of lodging, public institutions, public halls and restaurants. In 1863, Anti-miscegenation law was included in the state constitution. It was overturned by Loving v Virginia (388 U.S. 1). And, in 1863, the governor approved an act giving African Americans the same rights to criminal trial as whites. However, blacks were denied the right to serve on a jury. Source
Many of these entries came from an inactive website—www.jimcrowhistory.org—though much of the data previously posted on that website has been reproduced on other websites. To avoid repeating the source of information for these entries, we have added the symbol “#” at the end of each of them. Capitalization of words follows the original usage, and many of the entries have been edited for clarity.
1863: On July 15, the governor approved an act giving African Americans the same rights to criminal trial as whites. However, blacks were denied the right to serve on a jury. Source is: Acts of the West Virginia Legislature.
1865: An education Statute enacted separate schools for Negroes, where there are more than 30 Negro children in a school district. If average daily attendance dropped to less than 15 per month, the school would be closed up to six months. If less than 30 black children reside in a district, funds were to be used for Negro education as "the board thinks best." #
1868: A Message from John F. Caldwell, the Mayor of Lewisburg: “But what God has made unequal, man cannot make equal. the governments of the States and their union were made for the white man, and I will oppose all attempts to give political power, suffrage, or office to the colored man.” Source
1872: "White and colored persons shall not be taught in the same school." This point-blank requirement for segregated schools was proclaimed in West Virginia's State Constitution as Article XII Section 8. In 1873, 1901, and 1931, the state legislature will create laws to enforce the constitutional mandate. Source
1872. On May 20, an Ohio County circuit court indicted Taylor Strauder, a Wheeling carpenter, for murdering his wife. During the court's July term, Strauder was convicted and sentenced to be hanged. This case was eventually tried in the United States Supreme Court, in which it was ruled unconstitutional to try an African American in a court system which forbade eligible African Americans from serving on juries as was the case in West Virginia. Source is: Sheeler, "The Negro in West Virginia Before 1900," 204.
1873: An education Statute amended the school law amended requiring the number of Negro children for a separate school to be greater than fifteen. Source