The Rise and Fall of Jim Crow A Century of Segregation
Jim Crow Stories
A National Struggle
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Jim Crow Stories

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Jessie Daniel Ames (1883 - 1972)
Jessie Daniel Ames Jessie Daniel Ames was a Texas suffragist and civil-rights activist who fought against lynching in the South. Ames founded the Texas League of Women Voters in 1919 and was its first president. She believed that it was the responsibility of women's organizations to try and solve racial problems.

In 1924 Ames became the director of the Texas branch of the Commission on Interracial Cooperation (CIC), and she was promoted to the position of director of the CIC Women's Committee at the organization's headquarters in Atlanta, Georgia in 1929. In 1930 Ames founded the Association of Southern Women for the Prevention of Lynching (ASWPL).
We pledge ourselves to create a new public opinion in the South which will not condone for any reason whatever acts of mobs or lynchers.She challenged the notion that white women needed protection from African-American men. She pointed out that alleged rapes of white women by African-American men, the supposed rationale for a lynching, seldom occurred and that the true motive for lynching was rooted in racial hatred.

Ames was successful in rallying the support of thousands of women and hundreds of public officials for her anti-lynching campaign. She recruited white Southern women to go out into the community and persuade law enforcement officials -- mainly sheriffs and judges -- to sign a pledge that they would do everything in their power to protect their prisoners from being lynched. The pledge read in part: "We declare lynching an indefensible crime, destructive of all principles of government, hostile to every ideal of religion and humanity, degrading and debasing to every person involved. We pledge ourselves to crate a new public opinion in the South which will not condone for any reason whatever acts of the mob or lynchers."

In addition to law enforcement officials, ASWPL members recruited local churches, social clubs, and politicians to sign pledges condemning lynching. They held lectures, published anti-lynching pamphlets, and gave talks at colleges and fraternal organizations. As Ames recounts, the women of the ASWPL persisted in their campaign even though they encountered resistance. "Women went into communities where there had been a lynching. Many of the people were surly, belligerent. Women were by no means safe. They knew of the constant dangers and didn't forget to pray. Many were threatened. I know women who wouldn't tell their husbands the threat because they feared their families would make them quit work." In 1940 no lynchings of African Americans were recorded, a first since the end of the Civil War.

--Richard Wormser

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In Texas, 352 of the 493 lynchings that took place between 1882 and 1968 were of African Americans.
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