Musings: Jim Crow Laws

Governor Ralph Northam has initiated an effort to find and expunge Jim Crow-related laws. He has established a commission to oversee the project and assigned one of his executive staff to head up the task. At first blush, I thought this was a good idea, but I have had second thoughts. This smacks of erasing history. As long as the statutes are not enforceable, why not leave them on the books as reminders to current and future generations of the wrongs inflicted by the Commonwealth on some of its citizens? On the other hand, the older Code books in the archives will show these statutes, so they will not really be lost to history and there is something to be said for cleaning up the Code of all obsolete provisions.

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10 responses to “Musings: Jim Crow Laws

  1. Doesn’t the Code Commission perform this function on a regular basis, taking out obsolete sections? But I guess simply asking the Code Commission to do this and bring back the needed amendments to the General Assembly would receive less attention and signal less virtue…..

    • The Code Commission will propose the recodification of an entire title occasionally when it is felt that a number of provisions are outdated or the title needs reorganizing due to decades of the GA adding sections Willy-nillly. (I do not know if this can be done in the Commission’s initiative or if the GA has to authorize it.). I don’t know of an instance when the Commission focused on sections on ascertain topic, wherever they were located.

  2. I can see where Dick is coming from – but how would that sound to a black person and it also lends support to the idea that physical Jim Crow symbols are legitimate memorials to history rather than Jim Crow Era symbols of white supremacy.

  3. Do you cite any specific instances? Perhaps the merits of repeal would vary case by case.

    • I don’t have any examples. In his column, Jeff Shapiro used as an example the recent bill introduced by Lionel Spruill that repealed a section that allowed employers to pay less than the minimum wage to “newsboys, shoe-shine boys, caddies … babysitters, ushers, doormen, concession attendants and cashiers in theaters’ — jobs to which African Americans were often relegated. Shapiro then went to say that there were “hundreds” of such laws still on the books. That is probably hyperbole.

      • And those minimum wage exemptions all deal with jobs that (when passed) relied heavily on tips and were performed by the youngest workers. Outmoded indeed, but I’m not sure the initial motivation was racial.

  4. The Ralph “Let Me Tell You About My Racism” Northam Gubernatorial Apology Tour continues . . .

    It also seems a good way to get a perpetual grievance-mongering machine going through every couple of months identify old laws in the Code that they will swear were positively, completely, totally weapons of the White Patriarchy.
    e.g. laws against felons voting

  5. well..laws against felons voting – and turning huge numbers of the black population into felons over laws and a criminal justice system that has them becoming felons at a far higher rate than their demographic percentage.

    I see where the GOP just got shut down by the SCOTUS on their claim that they were “injured” because they were stopped from racial gerrymandering…. Good Lord!

  6. “a criminal justice system that has them becoming felons at a far higher rate than their demographic percentage.”

    Because people commit crimes in exact accordance with demographic consistency. I also like the “justice system that has them becoming felons” – a nice touch that completely transfers away all personal responsibility.

    And the GOP was doing the WRONG TYPE of racial gerrymandering . . . not the type that creates minority -majority safe Congressional seats for Donald McEachin and Bobby Scott. That type is hunky dory.

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