In a recent incident, the Colorado Springs NAACP appeared to come under attack of an explosive device for which many Colorado Springs Public School student have been made aware. The attack took place on January 7, 2015 where there was minimal surface charring to the exterior wall of the building. No one was injured. The FBI is presently interested in the apparent bomber who is thought to be 40-ish Caucasian who is balding.
Bombing has been a long used tactic by those who oppose organizations such as the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP). During the Jim Crow era bombings were a vastly used tactic for intimidating civil rights leaders.
The name Jim Crow is often used to describe the segregation laws, rules, and customs which arose after Reconstruction ended in 1877 and continued until the mid-1960s. By 1838, the term “Jim Crow” was being used as a collective racial epithet for blacks, not as offensive as nigger, but similar to coon or darkie. The popularity of minstrel shows clearly aided the spread of Jim Crow as a racial slur. This use of the term only lasted half a century. By the end of the 19th century, the words Jim Crow were less likely to be used to derisively describe blacks; instead, the phrase Jim Crow was being used to describe laws and customs which oppressed blacks.
Thirty-four states enforced Jim Crow laws with the rise of Reconstruction and ended in the 1960’s. The Jim Crow States included
- New Mexico
- North Carolina
- North Dakota
- Rhode Island
- South Carolina
- South Dakota
- West Virginia
Colorado was know for enforcing several Jim Crow Laws which included:
- 1864: Miscegenation [Statute] Marriage between Negroes and mulattoes, and white persons “absolutely void.” Penalty: Fine between $50 and $550, or imprisonment between three months and two years, or both.
- 1864-1908: [Statute] Passed three Jim Crow laws between 1864 and 1908, all concerning miscegenation. School segregation was barred in 1876, followed by ending segregation of public facilities in 1885. Four laws protecting civil liberties were passed between 1930 and 1957, when the anti-miscegenation statute was repealed.
- 1908: Miscegenation [Statute] Marriage between Negroes and mulattoes, and whites prohibited. Penalties: Punishable by imprisonment from three months to two years, or a fine of between $50 to $500. Performing a marriage ceremony punishable by a fine of $50 to $500, or three months to two years’ imprisonment, or both.
- 1930: Miscegenation [Statute] Miscegenation declared a misdemeanor.
One notable bombing during the decline of the Jim Crow Laws was the Birmingham Church Bombing. On September 15, a bomb exploded before Sunday morning services at the 16th Street Baptist Church in Birmingham, Alabama–a church with a predominantly black congregation that served as a meeting place for civil rights leaders. Four young girls were killed and many other people injured; outrage over the incident and the violent clash between protesters and police that followed helped draw national attention to the hard-fought, often dangerous struggle for civil rights for African Americans.
Mississippi has a history of violence towards Blacks who sought their civil rights. In 1955, Reverend George Lee, vice president of the Regional Council of Negro Leadership and NAACP worker, was shot in the face and killed for urging blacks in the Mississippi Delta to vote. In August 1955, Lamar Smith, sixty-three-year-old farmer and World War II veteran, was shot in cold blood on the crowded courthouse lawn in Brookhaven, Mississippi, for urging blacks to vote. On September 25, 1961, farmer Herbert Lee was shot and killed in Liberty, Mississippi, by E.H. Hurst, a member of the Mississippi State Legislature. Hurst murdered Lee because of his participation in the voter registration campaign sweeping through southwest Mississippi. NAACP State Director Medgar Evers was gunned down in 1963 in his Jackson driveway by rifle-wielding white Citizens Council member Byron De La Beckwith from Greenwood, Mississippi. Civil rights activists James Chaney, Andrew Goodman, and Michael Schwerner were beaten and killed for investigating the burning of a church that had housed a NAACP meeting.
Colorado Springs Public Schools will have to respond appropriately or else they can expect an increase in student disciplinary infractions. One of those infractions are student fights. Some students will take the side of the bomber and other students will take the side of the NAACP. This could lead to bullying amongst students too.
Colorado Springs Public Schools will also have to consider achievement. Many Black students will feel that the schools are racist because they are not responding to the NAACP bombing. They will choose to not put their best foot forward on the upcoming state assessment which will impact the school district and the teachers.
Colorado Springs Public Schools has a great opportunity to turn the NAACP bombing into a learning experience.
- Before students return to class prepare a lesson that examines how people in the United States should improve racial relationships.
- In order to make it an assignment that agrees with Black students make the culminating activity a PowerPoint.
- Make an assessment rubric that is centrally designed to assess writing skills and research skills and not content or opinion.
- Allow students to work in groups of three to four students.
- Allow students to complete research via internet
Finally, as your Colorado Springs Public School students present their solution do not interject your opinion.
Eric Garner Webquest
Dr. Derrick L. Campbell, Ed.D.
PO Box 1668 Blackwood, NJ 08012
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