Did Jim Crow laws apply to Asians and Am-Indians?

Every time I hear about the “Whites Only” signs that used to adorn drinking fountains, lunch counters, and other areas in the South before the end of the Jim Crow laws, I can’t help but wonder about this.

If a Japanese man, for example, or an American Indian were to approach such a restaurant, would he be kicked out as well? Did Asians in the South enjoy the same status as whites, or were they routinely discriminated against by Jim Crow laws like the blacks were?

It seems to me like the main source of tension during the time of those laws was specifically between whites and blacks, not whites and “all other non-whites.” Can anyone shed light on this?

Somebody will research this and give a better answer. I can only speak to my own experience which is based on life in a small part of Texas a few years after Jim Crow legally became history, but “Colored” and “White” water fountains and restrooms still abounded.

There weren’t enough Asians or Amerinds around to draw a conclusion for those cases, but Hispanics definitely used the facilities labeled “White.”

Hope that helps.

They could. See, for example, the 1927 Supreme Court case Gong Lum v Rice (A parent sues the State of Mississippi because his daughter isn’t allowed to attend the white elementary school because she’s Chinese. The Supreme Court rules that such segregation is legal, agreeing with the Mississippi Supreme Court. The Mississippi law in question stated:

“'Separate schools shall be maintained for children of the white and colored races.”

and the state Supreme Court ruled, in the words of the US Supreme Court:

That being said, the fact that Chinese students in Miss. in 1927 weren’t allowed to go to white schools doesn’t mean that it neccesarily happened everywhere with segregation laws or that it neccesarily applied to public facilities other than schools.

Well, on a documentary I saw on PBS about a million years ago, there was a little section on a unit of U.S. servicemen who were mostly native Hawaiians, and were sent to the mainland U.S. for some reason (training, or something. 'Can’t remember.) in the 40s or 50s. Their CO briefed them that they were to use the “White” restrooms and whatnot.

Feel free to cooberate or debunk the above.

There were some pretty severe Jim Crow-style laws in California that were aimed mainly at Asians (mostly Chinese). Click on California on the map on this page for more detailed information. In fact, the entire site (The History of Jim Crow) could help answer your questions.

They could. They sometimes didn’t. Depended on how bigoted the local standards were and whether the particluar groups or individual Asians, Indians, Native Americans, and Hispanics were assimilated enough to pass muster so’s not to offend white sensibilities.

If their skin were noticeably dark, though – and I’d use the paper bag test as an offhand guage – no amount of wealth or refinement would prevent them from being treated like ordinary colored folks within the confines of interstate transportation, public facilities, public education or in the eyes of the law if they were in Deep South states like Mississippi, Alabama, and Georgia.

There was considerable inter-marriage between African Americans and Native Americans here in Virginia, so the distinction was largely lost. The Native Americans that didn’t live on their own reservations had mostly been assimilated.