December 10th, 2023
L&T Opinions Page

earl 2020 mug colorL&T Publisher Earl Watt


Ferris State University has a museum that everyone should see to understand the true racism that used to exist in this country, and to recognize the difference when some make claims to racism today.

We still have racism to be sure, and always will. There is no way to make every person believe that we are all equal. Some will believe themselves superior for a variety of reasons, and unfortunately, some believe the color of their skin makes them better than others.

That’s why the Jim Crow Museum at Ferris State University is so important.

By studying museums like this, the term systemic racism might come into better perspective of what it truly was.

The Jim Crow Museum exhibits when systemic racism was accepted in society, something we would never allow today.

Could you imagine parks that could only be used by white people in one area and only black people in another?

How about laws that prevented black people from renting in certain neighborhoods, or even having separate entrances for restaurants and separate places to eat for whites and blacks?

These were all legal.

In addition, white motorists always had the right of way at all intersections, and blacks, as we all knew from the Selma, Alabama, situation with Rosa Parks, were not allowed to sit in the front section of public buses.

These are what Jim Crow laws were, and they were designed to support the racist idea that white people were superior to blacks.

Even in Oklahoma in 1935, white people and black people couldn’t even be in the same boat.

This is what Jim Crow laws were. They explicitly referred to race, and they always referred to separation of the races.

The legal system was more inclined to take the word of a white person over a black person. 

The system was racist and designed to keep the races from being legally and socially equal.

Some laws made it intentionally difficult for blacks to vote, like implementing poll taxes and literacy tests.

But the voting Rights Act of 1965 made these illegal, and since that time it is illegal to create different standards of voting.

Now that we know what Jim Crow laws were, and how racist they were, we are hearing the term used almost daily because of states implementing laws to make sure elections can be trusted as safe and secure.

Many states have implemented voter identification requirements where every voter must show their photo ID before casting a ballot.

These have been called Jim Crow laws. Nothing could be further from the truth.

For one, everyone has to show an identification.

Many states require much more before a person can exercise their Constitutional right to own a gun. In addition to showing an identification, some states register gun owners and keep track of the firearm. This standard is well above what is being asked a voter to do, and yet no one is calling gun registration laws Jim Crow laws.

But they refer to voter ID as Jim Crow because those who want voting to be untraceable want no proof for any voter.

There is an ocean of difference between voter ID and Jim Crow.

Everyone has the right to cast a private ballot, but we all must prove we are who the voter registration says we are.

If not, there is no way an election will ever be considered fair.

Those who oppose voter ID can make their case, but using references to Jim Crow are dishonest and inaccurate, and they should be rejected.