The Mississippi Black Code was a response to Reconstruction by white Southern Democrats, which aimed to return African Americans to a slave-like state, in order to restore a sense of masculinity and power to white landowners who had lost status and capital. The code symbolized and legalized the racist ideas that drove Southerners to exclude African Americans from politics and society.
The Mississippi Black Code argues that African Americans, despite the Thirteenth Amendment, weren’t equals of white men. This code, written by rich white Democrats, created a separate set of laws for African Americans which attempted to “[revive] slavery in disguise” without directly violating the Thirteenth Amendment, through …show more content…
While some may claim that it was a defense of states’ rights, it was a hypocritical defense of states’ rights to crush a group’s individual rights, some of which, like the Second Amendment, had existed long before the Civil War. The code relied on deceptive language to disguise this violation of rights. Apprenticeship, for instance, painted white persons as saviors, helping needy African American children, while in reality it reasserted white supremacy. The code, because it was written by white Democrats with political power, fails to account for the opinions of African Americans, and of the Southern whites who supported emancipation. It ignores the struggles of African Americans to overcome socio-political hurdles by obtaining an education in schools and colleges run by African Americans, by establishing communities and community leaders in churches, and even by aligning with Populists and other Democrats to influence politics, even if these parties didn’t always align with black interests. In order to have better represented the historical period, the code would have benefitted from allowing African Americans to have political power and hence influence this code, which may at first seem antithetical to the code’s purpose, but black leaders like Booker T. Washington advocated for a separation of the races, and accepted literacy tests and other voting requirements. Including these black voices would add validity to the code, because it would divert the racism behind it, while creating the same exclusionary and discriminatory policies.
In conclusion, the Mississippi Black Code, even though some of its ideas aligned with black leaders like Washington, was racist in its segregation, and violently denied African Americans civil rights to regain a sense of superiority. It was a desperate attempt to stay in an antebellum past, and a rejection of the Second