THE LAW IS THE LAW. RIGHT? WELL, IT CAN BE COMPLICATED.
Your history teacher, Mr. Gibson, explained that America’s 13 original states actually existed independently before they joined together to form the country, the United States. And those 13 states were all very different. So of course, they wanted to protect their own interests. How did the founding fathers solve this problem when they drafted the Constitution that created our country? The answer is Federalism.
Federalism is the system where the national government in Washington, D.C. and the individual state governments share the power to make laws. When Mr. Gibson explained this, you thought it sounded like it could be confusing. Like if your Dad said you could go to a concert and your Mom said that you couldn’t. You know whose law you’d like to win, but whose law would win?
Now you’re exploring an example of Federalism in action with a team of your classmates. You’re reading about the “Jim Crow” laws that many Southern states made to maintain racial separation (called “segregation”) even after the national government added an Amendment to the Constitution to end segregation. As it turned out, the national government let these states pass and enforce segregation laws for many years even after the Fourteenth Amendment was added to the Constitution.
This all seems very strange to you and you want to learn more.
Investigate the primary sources. How did the “Jim Crow” laws keep African American citizens from being able to enjoy equal rights? Make your case.
Have your students take this challenge and make their case! To begin, send your students to this website with this challenge’s code.
Federalism is the system where the national government in Washington, D.C. and the individual state governments share the power to make laws. "Jim Crow" laws were created to keep black and white people separated in the South. For example they didn't allow different races to marry, share toilets, or play pool together.