The World of the Play

James Baldwin creates a chilling landscape on which the play takes place. A world of ignorance and hate that seems like its from the distant past. Upon closer examination, it is clear that though we may want to distance ourselves from the atrocities of our mistakes, they trail closely behind us... 

A PORTRAIT OF THE AMERICAN SOUTH

Segregation

The most blatant form of racial inequality in day to day life everything was segregated, from swimming pools, to movie theaters, to courtrooms.

1896 - Homer A. Plessy brought to court the unconstitutionality of segregation on public transit. The Louisiana Supreme Court rejected Plessy’s argument that his constitutional rights were violated. This escalated all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court, where they ruled that a state law that “implies merely a legal distinction” between whites and blacks did not conflict with the 13th and 14th Amendments. Restrictive “Jim Crow” legislation and "separate but equal" accomodations became commonplace after the Plessy decision, and its reasoning was not overturned until the Brown v. Board of Education decision in 1954.

TL:DR - The Louisiana Supreme Court overruled the case, which was then later dismissed by the US Supreme Court, setting the national precedent that segregation was legal and constitutional

Violence

4075 racial terror lynchings of African Americans in Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, and Virginia between 1877 and 1950. Lynchings were violent, public spectacles with no legal repercussions for the murderers from either state or federal officials.

Today, traces of the terror era are evidenced in the mass incarceration of minorities, racially biased capital punishment, excessive sentencing, disproportionate sentencing of racial minorities, and police abuse of people of color.

reasons for lynching:
#1 homicide
#2 all other causes
#3 protecting white women

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Incarceration

African Americans are incarcerated at the rate of 5.1 times the rate of whites

In Iowa, Minnesota, New Jersey, Vermont, and Wisconsin the incarceration disparity is 10 to 1 

More than half the prison population is black in:
Alabama
Delaware
Georgia
Illinois
Louisiana
Maryland
Michigan
Mississippi
New Jersey
North Carolina
South Carolina
Virginia

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