If a Black person wanted to ride a public bus in the Jim Crow-era South, they would have to climb into the front of the bus to pay, then exit the bus and walk to the rear entrance. Segregation, codified under the South’s so-called Jim Crow laws, meant that Black passengers couldn’t even walk through the white section at the front of the bus. And the white bus driver making sure passengers used the correct entrance? He might very well be carrying a firearm.
“Jim Crow was the legal system of the Southern states for at least 60 years. Jim Crow was the law,” says Northeastern University Distinguished Professor of Law Margaret Burnham.