There is an opinion that racial discrimination, violence, and segregation are inherent and integral parts of American life. These practices were at the beginning of U.S. history and continued further, with some harsher or calmer periods. Although the Fourteenth Amendment passed in 1868 stated that everyone had equal legal protection regardless of race, violent years were ahead. Thus, in the 1890s, racial discrimination increased because many white Americans perceived Blacks as a threat, and lynching and segregation became ways for the former to secure themselves from the latter.
Even though slavery was officially eliminated, it was not easy for African Americans to receive freedom because whites failed to understand the principle of equality. As stated by Wells-Barnett, many whites considered themselves to be in “great danger as if they were surrounded by wild beasts.” To punish formerly enslaved people and show their power, white Americans implemented the practice of lynching. From their point of view, they protected their women because crimes against them increased, and in almost all cases, the victims accused Blacks of the crimes (Wells-Barnett). Another method prevalent in this era was racial segregation based on the “separate but equal” philosophy (“Plessy v. Ferguson (1896)”)). Thus, Blacks and whites had different transportation, schools, neighborhoods, and other places to avoid potential fights or other acts of violence. What is more, according to personal accounts, people had their wages reduced significantly (“Father Knows Best? Strikers Denounce Pullman”). African Americans received freedom but not equality and had to survive each day, hoping for someone to protect and support them.
To conclude, the 1890s was a challenging period when racial discrimination began to thrive again. White Americans could not accept the new concept of equality and believed they had to protect themselves from Blacks, which is how they justified lynching. The rights of African Americans were not secured as they faced reduction in wages and other unfair attitudes. Segregation was implemented as another offensive practice to avoid communicating or having business with African Americans and prevent the potential increase in racial violence.
“Father Knows Best? Strikers Denounce Pullman.” History Matters. Accessed 12 Jun. 2023.
“Plessy v. Ferguson (1896).” National Archives. Accessed 12 Jun. 2023.
Wells-Barnett, Ida B. “Lynch Law in America.” The American Yawp Reader, 1900.