Jim Crow Pennsylvania
Historians say that the term 'Jim Crow' originated in a song performed by Daddy Rice, a white minstrel show entertainer in the 1830s. His charcoal darkened face performed an unflattering caricature of a black man. During the nineteenth century the term became identified with the racist laws that deprived African-Americans of their civil rights by defining blacks as inferior to whites.
The documentary looks at how 'Jim Crow' practices affected black Pennsylvanians: the first African American family to purchase a home in Levittown; the role of the Pullman Porters in Pittsburgh, who crossed the country on America's railways and their work with labor and civil rights leader A. Phillip Randolph, who founded the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters and later organized African American steelworkers; the 1911 lynching that forever changed Coatesville; and other stirring stories of victory and struggle.
Jim Crow Pennsylvania includes archival footage from Pittsburgh Filmmakers, the WQED archives, and period photographs from the Carnegie Museum's Teenie Harris Collection.
The documentary explores "Jim Crow's" effect and legacy on the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, a state whose southern border is the Mason-Dixon Line that divided the free north from the slave states.
The program highlights some of the people who suffered but survived the harsh practices and are willing to tell their stories. Historical context is provided by Dr. Thomas Sugrue of the University of Pennsylvania and by footage of the late Dr. Edna McKenzie, a Pittsburgh historian and former Pittsburgh Courier journalist.
Jim Crow Pennsylvania is produced by WQED Multimedia and funded by the Pennsylvania Public Television Network. Emmy Award-winning Chris Moore is host and narrator; the documentary is co-produced by Moore, Olga George; and Emmy Award-winner Minette Seate.