Formerly, "Just Thinking", this blog presents the thoughts and experiences of a family historian working to demystify the past and uncover the stories of an elusive ancestry. NC surnames are YARBOROUGH, GREEN, HAWKINS, DUNSTON, DAVIS, BROWN, ROSS, HILL, BRYANT, and DAVENPORT in Franklin, Warren, Halifax, and Tyrrell Counties.
With so much of my family's history shrouded in darkness, is my personal mission to uncover the hidden details of my ancestry and bring them INTO THE LIGHT.
Wednesday, January 25, 2017
The "Jim Crow Bible" - Did you know?
While reading this post, please click on each of the articles to enlarge and isolate them. All articles are sourced by hovering over the title bar at the top of each one.
Last night, I participated (via live feed), as an audience member, in a wonderful talk, given by author Isabel Wilkerson (The Warmth of Other
Suns) at the University of Richmond. During her engaging lecture, Ms. Wilkerson
mentioned something that I'd never heard of - the "Jim Crow Bible".
Curious, I decided to look up the term, to learn more about it. The closest
thing to an actual definition I found was in this somewhat satirical little
snippet posted in The Albuquerque Journal,
As was shared
during the talk, the Jim Crow Bible was a term used to describe the separate
bible that was used to swear in blacks, in a court of law, during the Jim Crow
years - roughly 1877 to the beginning of the 1950s, when the Civil Rights era
In my quest to learn more about this oddity, I discovered several
newspaper articles, most of which made reference to the same (apparently)
monumental event which occurred in Raleigh, NC in 1906.
First there was this, fromThe
Raleigh Times, in March 1906.
By August of that same year, apparently folks were still talking
about this judge's horrible mistake, only now, as often happens when stories
are passed down and around over time, the tale has grown to include a
about it from the Rochester, NYDemocrat
and Chronicle. No worries though. A new (replacement) bible could be purchased for just fifty cents.
Now, before you go thinking that the whole kissing the bible thing
was an embellishment, take a look at this article from a November, 1947 edition
ofThe Pittsburg Courier.5
Yes, that's right. I
Well, folks, I think you get the picture. I have to say that I've been educated, yet again. Little did I know that Jim Crow stretched its racist, segregationist hand even to the touching (or kissing) of the Holy Book. What baffles me most about this is that those same black hands that weren't supposed to grace the same bibles, were holding, loving, raising the children, preparing the food, washing the clothes, and even changing the very sheets of the folks who dared not place a hand on this sacred implement during a seconds-long courthouse ritual.
1 Melvin I. Urofsky https://www.britannica.com/event/Jim-Crow-law Permalink: http://justthinking130.blogspot.com/2017/01/the-jim-crow-bible-did-you-know.html