Family Entertainment under Jim Crow Laws

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Family Entertainment under Jim Crow Laws

Family life and parenting included entertaining the children on a small budget during the era of Jim Crow laws when Americans were restricted from activities due to their color or other features and customs distinguishing them from the mainstream population.

Segregated Bus TravelParents, charged with the duty of explaining to their children why they could not go to a movie, restaurant or an amusement park, were challenged to entertain youngsters at home.

Homemade ice cream and someone from the neighborhood playing a guitar were the solutions that some families created. 

In addition, during the era of Jim Crow laws, which was before the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s, many families did not make enough money to attend plays and ballets or travel, even if they had been permitted. In fact, travel was another aspect of life that was segregated, whether on public transportation or the highway. When families drove from one location to another through certain states, there was nowhere to stop for food, lodging or restrooms. People of certain ethnicity traveled as if they were still traveling on the underground railroad before the Cilvil War outlawed slavery. Travel routes were planned well in advance with friendly spots identified, often in private homes or churches.

Jim Crow Movie Sign Waco, TexasAn outing as simple as a movie with popcorn was off limits to black Americans because movies were divided into Hollywood and black Hollywood. If some theaters did permit black patrons inside, they charged them full price or more but restricted these customers to unlit balconies with no restroom facilities where they were allowed to watch Jim Crow movies that degraded black actors. 

It came down to the almighty dollar where Hollywood was concerned–no film distribution, no profit for the studio. That was the case with housing and other areas of life, too. If a black person was allowed to move into a white neighborhood, property values fell, making the process of integrating American society as slow as integrating the screen and stage, both of which had been steeped in a “separate, but hardly, equal” tradition for many generations. 

Lena HorneAfrican Americans were forced by local hiring practices to hold lower status jobs such as maids, butlers, porters and janitors, and had to adopt a behavior that matched their social status and masked how they felt about the reality of their lives. Hollywood was simply imitating life as movie executives felt they must in order to maintain movie distribution in the southern United States. Any deviation from that black Hollywood movie image would cause an uproar in the segregated states, where black actors could not share the screen in an equal role or a lunch counter with a white actor. Singing performances by Lena Horne were cut from the movie reel before southern audiences were allowed to see her. 

Many black families entertained at home rather than endure the humiliation of ordering food from a walk-up outdoor window or being segregated to a back room via an alley door.  

Source by Sunny Nash

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