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Who invented the name for the Jim Crow laws?

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July 08, 2009 12:07PM

Dr. John Thorp, a cultural anthropologist at the Jim Crow Museum of Racist Memorabilia at Ferris State University in Big Rapids, Mich., said a song sung by blacks in the early 19th century poked fun at Jim Crow, a slave master, and a law that said blacks couldn't dance by shuffling their feet. In the 1820s it appeared in sheet music written by Thomas Dartmouth "Daddy" Rice, a white actor and musician who did short skits between play scenes at the Park Theater in New York City. Some accounts say Rice heard a black man singing the Jim Crow song on the street and decided to use that image as a stage character in his act. Rice depicted blacks as lazy, singing and dancing fools in his act. His stage show was a hit, and Jim Crow became a stock character in other minstrel shows. The term "Jim Crow Law" was first used n 1841 in reference to a Massachusetts law which required railroads to provide a separate car for Negro passengers.