The Jim “Crow” Laws

Too often crows and ravens are used negatively in literature and culture. The term “Jim Crow Laws” does not break away from this negative pattern. Read on in an excerpt from In the Company of Crows and Ravens by John M. Marzluff and Tony Angell:

“Integrating freed slaves and other black-skinned Americans into the South’s dominant white culture was slow. Jim Crow laws actively discriminated against African Americans. The term Jim Crow appears to have been coined in 1837 in a poem by R.H. Barham. In the poem Barham refers to a thieving jackdaw that steals a Catholic cardinal’s holy ring. The ashamed bird returns the ring, abandons his life of crime, and is canonized Saint Jim Crow. Like Aesop’s crow, wearing peacock feathers, Jim Crow lived beyond his rightful social class, gaining more respect than provided by birthright. Another saying that is still used in the South has its origin in sixteenth century England: ‘Every crow thinks her own bird is the fairest.'”