Reconstructing the Golden State
This chapter examines the history of California’s commitment to Jim Crow, a history that begins during the state’s earliest years. African Americans loomed large in the minds of California’s earliest legislators and politicians. Black codes became a prominent feature of the state’s legal system and developed in tandem with scientific racism. Black bodies as a site of difference became a staple of the public discourse of citizenship. Resistance to the state’s color line took place at parades, in court, in schools, on streetcars, and on stage, all places African Americans were discouraged or prohibited from occupying. Gendered politics infused this first western campaign for civil rights and women’s participation would be pivotal in the ongoing struggle for racial justice.
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