Jim Crow Laws: Illinois

This list contains Jim Crow laws and anti-Jim Crow laws. (Please note the source of this list in the footnotes.)

1865: Barred residency segregation [Statute]
Repealed 1853 act making it a misdemeanor for a Negro to move to Illinois.

1874: Barred school segregation [Statute]
Boards of education prohibited from excluding any child on account of color from the public schools. Penalty: Those who excluded children based on race would be fined between $5 and $100. Those who threatened a child from attending a public school were subject to a fine up to $25.

1885: Barred public accommodation segregation [Statute]
Made inns, restaurants, barber shops, public transportation, theaters and places of public amusement available to all persons. Penalty: Violators of the act would be fined between $25 and $500, paid to the victim, and would also be guilty of a misdemeanor, and subject to a fine of up to $500.

1896: Barred school segregation [Statute]
Prohibited school officers from excluding children from public schools on the basis of color. Penalty: $5 to $100.

1897: Barred public accommodation segregation [Statute]
1885 law amended to include hotels, soda-fountains, saloons, bathrooms, theaters, skating-rinks, concerts, cafes, bicycle rinks, elevators, ice cream parlors, railroads, stages, streetcars and boats.

1903: Barred public accommodation segregation [Statute]
1885 law extended to include funeral hearses as list of public services available to all persons.

1911: Barred public accommodations segregation [Statute]
Amendment to 1885 Civil Rights law stating that cemeteries could not discriminate based on race the choice of burial plots for burying the dead.

1917: Antidefamation [Statute]
Unlawful to "manufacture, sell or offer for sale, advertise or publish, prsent or exhibit in any public place any lithograph, moving picture, play, drama or sketch, which publication or exhibition portrays depravity, criminality, unchastity, or lack of virtue of a class of citizens, of any race, color, creed or religion...which exposes the citizens of any race, color, creed or religion to contempt, derision, or obloquy or which is productive of breach of the peace or riots." Penalty: Misdemeanor, punishable by a fine of between $50 and $200.

1927: Housing [Municipal Code]
Chicago adopted racially restrictive housing covenants beginning in 1927, although other tactics had been used in earlier years to maintain a segregated city. At one time, as much as 80 percent of the city may have been covered by restrictive covenants. In 1924, Nathan MacChesney, a prominent Chicago attorney and a member of the Chicago Planning Commission, drafted an addition to the Code of Ethics of the National Association of Real Estate Boards that "forbade realtors to introduce members of any race or nationality" into neighborhoods where their presence would damage property values. In 1927, MacChesney drafted a model racial restrictive covenant for the Chicago Real Estate Board, solely targeting African Americans. The Chicago Real Estate Board promoted the covenant to YMCAs, churches, women's clubs, PTAs, Kiwanis clubs, chambers of commerce and property owners' associations. Hyde Park, Woodlawn, Park Manor, South Shore, and other neighborhoods on Chicago's South Side adjacent to the so-called "black belt," responded as well as outlying Chicago neighborhoods and suburbs. Additionally, the University of Chicago was a strong supporter of the covenant campaign in Washington Park, although they denied their affiliation for many years. In 1948, the United States Supreme Court ruled that enforcement of racial restrictive covenants was unconstitutional. The Supreme Court's ruling, however, did not put an end to the problem of blacks finding adequate housing. Homeowner associations continued to push for segregation. Shortly after the court decision, the Woodlawn Property Owners wrote:

If the colored people are convinced that life in Woodlawn would be unbearable, they would not want to come in. There must be ways and means to keep whites from selling, causing colored not to want to come in because life here would be unbearable. We are going to save Woodlawn for ourselves and our children!

(Deeds of Mistrust: Race, Housing, and Restrictive Covenants in Chicago, 1900-1950)

1933: Civil rights protection [Statute]
Outlawed racial discrimination. Penalty: Criminal prosecution and damages.

1933: Barred employment discrimination [Statute]
Prohibited discrimination and intimidation on account of race or color in employment under contracts for public buildings or public works. Penalties: $100 for each offense. Fines up to $500 and or imprisonment up to 30 days.

1953: Housing [Municipal Code]
In August 1953, the first black family to move into Trumbull Park, an all-white project of the Chicago Housing Authority, came under attack by nearly fifty teenagers who hurled stones, bricks and racial slurs at their apartment. Venturing outside of their home was equally frightening, and required a police escort. Additionally, blacks traveling through the area now became targets of violence. As more black families moved into the project, they, too, were harassed daily. When blacks received a permit to organize a baseball game at the neighborhood park, tensions intensified. A hostile crowd gathered at the park. When a firecracker tossed from the crowd hit a player, the police sat motionless. A player who went to retrieve a foul ball was attacked by the crowd and a fight broke out. When the police arrested the white who started the fight, the crowd quickly turned their frustrations on the police. Reactions intensified after the fight and there was talk among whites to "burn the dirty bastards out."

Another disturbing incident occurred in July 1954 when three black women attended mass at a local Catholic church. After the mass the women waited until most of the crowd had left and exited from a side door. A crowd of about thirty awaited the women as they left the church. One white woman was so incensed that she attacked the black women with her umbrella. Father Michael Commins, the rector of the church, reproached his parishioners in a bulletin later that month, saying, "Hissing, hooting and assaulting anyone for going to Mass is very un-Christian like." Although there was much less violence within Trumbull Park by the early 1960s, anti-black sentiments were still firmly in place. Neighborhood taverns featured Members Only signs, African Americans stayed away from the park, the public swimming pool and local churches. As Arnold R. Hirsch wrote in a journal article published on Trumbull Park, "The decade of resistance that prevented all but a token of African American presence maintained South Deering as a white domain even as King negotiated the desegregation of Birmingham, Alabama." (Massive Resistance in the Urban North: Trumbull Park, Chicago, 1953-1966, The Journal of American History, Sept. 1995)

1956: Barred health care segregation [Municipal Code]
No hospital to deny to any person admission for care or treatment on account of race, color, creed or national origin.

1957: Barred housing segregation [Statute]
Neighborhood redevelopment corporations must not discriminate.

1957: Barred school segregation [Statute]
No exclusion or segregation in districts of fewer than 1,000 persons. Penalty: $5 to $100.

1958: Barred National Guard segregation [Statute]
Prohibited segregation or discrimination within state National Guard.



"The History of Jim Crow," n.d., <http://jimcrowhistory.org> (27 November 2009).