Southern laws mandating racial segregation included

The story of desegregation in Arkansas tells of many failures, some victories, and even regression as the journey from segregation to desegregation witnessed many pitfalls in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries.

The earliest state-mandated segregation in Arkansas occurred with the passage of Act 52 of 1868, which established segregated education for black and white students.

Using the “white primary” rule, the Democratic Party managed to effectively eliminate the black vote.

Such actions set the stage for legislation to ensure that black citizens were marginalized in mainstream life in Arkansas, a process that occurred most rapidly in urban areas.

The quandary in which most black citizens found themselves required them to consider which would be the lesser of two evils: exclusion or segregation.

Rather than be marginalized entirely, at least when it came to education, they chose separate albeit inferior educational facilities.

As the Democratic Party closed in on political offices throughout the South, so too was the case in Arkansas.

In 1890, the Populist Party still remained firmly entrenched in Arkansas politics—a position that the Democratic Party found increasingly threatening. Black farmers found the movement appealing as well and, by 1885, had organized local alliances into the Sons of the Agricultural Star.Whatever tension local whites may have felt because of their presence, by the last two decades of the century, there was a small but independent class of black artisans, craftsmen, and other professionals.Racial segregation also meant that blacks were able to take advantage of educational opportunities, and black teachers were assured of jobs in black schools.Segregation statutes deliberately designed to mark blacks as an inferior caste were not actually codified in law until the Separate Coach Law of 1891.What followed was a series of laws requiring the separation of blacks and whites in virtually every aspect of life.In Little Rock (Pulaski County), for example, blacks and whites continued to frequent the same saloons and restaurants as late as the 1890s.

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