In what ways, if any, was Jim Crow ignored/flouted by whites in the South?

I’ve been working in Alabama for going on four months. Frankly, I’m surprised how modern it seems and how nice the people are, considering it’s pretty darn red as a state. I saw more Confederate flags in my home state of Indiana than I’ve seen here. I’ve seen “interracial” couples here (though not as many as back home, where they are a fairly significant percentage of couples), and white and black people seem to get along. (This is not to imply I assumed Alabama was horrible; it simply has exceeded my expectations.)

Jim Crow was a horrible, racist system of law and social practices that hurt millions of people (and racism, of course, still exists, but as a white person I am almost never a target of it in the US and therefore cannot directly experience how bad it still is). I’m curious, however, to what degree Jim Crow was ignored, flouted, opposed, etc., by white people in the South. (I am excluding joining in protests or other explicit political opposition, though I would be curious to know if any Southern newspapers, etc., opposed racial discrimination.)

Possible examples would be:

• Not treating black and white customers differently in a store, restaurant, etc.

• Not providing separate bathrooms for the different “races.”

• Holding events that included black and white people equally (Mardi Gras is a big deal here in Mobile, and I am curious to what degree black and white people mixed during the events, if at all).

• Tolerating mixed-“race” friendships, couples, etc.

Motivations for exceptions could have been anything from wanting to make more money from more people to not being racist or being too lazy to implement racist policies (being racist is pretty tiring, after all).

While I’m not assuming that exceptions happened in any substantial amount, life is rarely black and white (pun intended). Yet we also have a tendency when talking about history to make villains 100% villains, etc.

I am too young to have any direct experience (and did not grow up in the South). I also don’t have much third-party information. I did read the book Black Like Me, however, and one exception the author noted was that the Catholic Church (at least insofar as he experienced during his time as a white person trying to look black) was not racist to him (the Church bookstore would cash his checks, etc., IIRC).

Thanks for your observations, opinions, etc.!

The Greenville Delta Democrat-Times (deep in the heart of backwoods Mississippi) crusaded for Civil Rights. In larger cities, Knoxville News Sentinel, Nashville Tennessean and* Atlanta Constitution* were all Civil Rights progressives.

Did any black people work as reporters or editors at those newspapers?

Are you in an urban part of Alabama or a rural part? Because the results may not be the same. Even in deep red states, the urban areas tend to be fairly blue.

It’s noteworthy to me that during the Scottsboro Boys case, in 1931, there was not one trial lawyer willing to be seen defending the black defendants. A totally unqualified lawyer was eventually strong-armed into providing minimal legal support. Later, in the appeals, they were defended by a lawyer from New York. No Atticus Finch stepped forward out of the whole state.

I don’t know. The question was whether any Southern newspapers opposed discrimination. I’m assuming the OP meant newspapers that were written and published for white audiences. There was a thriving African-American press throughout the South during that era.

are you aware that in early 20th century, Indy was HQ for KKK? As for non-racist white in that period, I’m sure they got a visit from sheriff or KKK.

I am in Mobile, but it gets very rural very quickly here (it’s essentially a small town by Indianapolis standards…). I work in a factory where a lot of the people are not from urban areas.

Alabama is a big state, however. I hear a lot of people here refer to Southern Alabama as having its own culture. What exactly that entails I do not know yet.

Just looked at Wikipedia and do not see it listed as a headquarters, but that may just be incomplete information.

But yes, Indiana has a horrible history with respect to the Klan. And like I said, I saw more Confederate flag shit in and around (mostly around) Indy than I have here.

Keep in mind the racism was a social system. It was seen as a necessary means to keep the large black population under control. If you, as a white person, tried to flout the system you would be seen as a problem. You would be weakening the division line that kept the social order functioning.

You could expect to have some people take you aside and give you a talking to. If you persisted, there would be warnings and threats. If you still didn’t stop, somebody would decide that they needed to “defend our way of life”.

"In 1819 a Scotsman named James Flint crossed the Atlantic Ocean, made his way from New York to Pittsburgh, sailed down the Ohio, and settled for eighteen months in Jeffersonville, Indiana, just opposite Louisville, Kentucky. His letters home described everything from native trees and shrubs to the “taciturnity” of American speech, “adapted to business more than to intellectual enjoyment.” Soon after arriving in Jeffersonville, Flint recounted the time when a “negro man and a white woman came before the squire of a neighbouring township, for the purpose of being married.” The official refused, citing a prohibition on “all sexual intercourse between white and coloured people, under a penalty for each offence.” Then he thought the better of it. He “suggested, that if the woman could be qualified to swear that there was black blood in her, the law would not apply. The hint was taken,” Flint wrote, “and the lancet was immediately applied to the Negro’s arm. The loving bride drank the blood, made the necessary oath, and his honour joined their hands, to the great satisfaction of all parties.”

Sorry, I missed that part in parentheses there in the OP. I mistakenly thought it was more about the “on the ground” stuff.

Wait, go back. To get married, at one time people here in the U.S. of Murrica had to … drink their fiancee’s blood?

This was part of the wedding ceremony?

Once she drank her fiancee’s blood, she had Negro blood in her and could swear to it.

Yeah, it was a trick to get around an unjust law.

For my fellow nit pickers:

Fiancé (male), not fiancée (female).

1819 was well before the era of Jim Crow laws.

Same thing happens in the musical Show Boat (and, I’m guessing, in the Edna Ferber novel on which the musical was based). It’s related to the so-called “one drop rule”–having one drop of “Negro blood” in you made you a Negro.

Racism wasn’t just a social system; it was also a set of laws, and whites who violated the law could be fined or imprisoned as well. For example, in Berea College v Kentucky, the college “did unlawfully and wilfully permit and receive both the white and negro races as pupils for instruction in said college” in violation of Kentucky law and was indicted, convicted, and fined.

Strictly one persons interpretation and memory but ----- Grandpap Kopek first came over here through Mississippi where he was classified as “other”. After going back to the Old Country and coming over for good in the North he made sure to check the box marked “white”. His take was that in the South many people adhered to Jim Crow as a matter of “obeying the law” and in the North (yes - many Northern cities had Jim Crow laws) it was more from a sense or racism. To him it was a coin-flip if one was any better than the other but at least in the North he found ethnically linked communities to operate from so here is where he stayed.

One fairly well known case is that of Newton Knight, the central figure in the film Free State of Jones

After the Civil War, Knight lived with a black woman in Mississippi and they had several children together. (His white son from a previous marriage also married interracially.) Knight and his wife were even buried together, in spite of laws against blacks and whites in the same cemetery.

So it did happen, but it was rare.