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Blacks were not expected to have serious opinions of their own, to exercise independence of judgment, to have the capacity to educate themselves in any advanced, formal manner, to be qualified to vote or to serve on juries (or of course to hold public office).
To her husband and his brother-in-law, it was a crude and crass violation of the etiquette of Jim Crow, an insult that required punishment, lest other blacks try to cross the color line in such a fashion.
At the height of the Southern lynching craze (which peaked in 1892), naked black men were castrated by white men in full view of white women and children.
In Atlanta in April 1899, for instance, Sam Hose was burned before a crowd of thousands for killing his employer and allegedly raping the white man's wife.
Stephen Whitfield: The deference expected of blacks varied in intensity, depending on the region, and also depending on whether the setting was urban or rural, upper South or Deep South.
In the Mississippi Delta in 1955, deference was about as thorough as could be imagined.