THE DELTA 325 The late nineteenth century was also a time of Lebanese migration to the Delta. Similar to the Chinese, Italians, and Jewish people, the Delta Lebanese population stayed away from agricultural work and set up businesses within their communities. Hailing from the Mount Lebanon region of Syria, Lebanese immigrants worked as peddlers who traveled and sold goods throughout the region and beyond. They first relied on horse-drawn wagons and then built their own stores in various Delta towns. Today, Clarksdale’s Rest Haven and Abe’s BBQ restaurants are run by people of Lebanese descent and have become a notable part of the Delta’s foodways heritage. The presence of Lebanese descendants in the Delta is a reminder of the region’s diversity and how economic change and development in the late nineteenth century made the region a magnet to more than just African American and white Americans. Jim Crow Era Throughout the late nineteenth century, Mississippi and other southern states enacted numerous segregation, or “Jim Crow,” laws. The term Jim Crow, which came from a nineteenth-century minstrel show character, has been used not only to define the laws of racial segregation but to encompass the wider discrimination faced by African Americans until the 1960s. Jim Crow laws required separate accommodations for whites and African Americans in a variety of public institutions and businesses. Schools had been segregated since the days of Reconstruction, but transportation had, for a brief while, been integrated. It was a common sight during the 1860s and 1870s to see whites and African Americans riding in the same railcars throughout Mississippi. When the Supreme Court struck down the 1875 Civil Rights Act in 1883, Southern states and localities moved to reverse the move to desegregated transportation. White political leadership passed and enforced laws providing for separate railcars and, in larger towns and cities, streetcars. The law required African Americans to ride in the poorly kept, inferior “colored” sections of trains while whites made their journeys in more desirable cars. Although the Supreme Court ruled in 1896 that racial segregation laws were constitutional as long as the practice was “separate but equal,” the accommodations provided for African Americans were rarely equal to those enjoyed by whites. With the end of Reconstruction in the 1870s, white political rule had been restored and the Democratic Party returned to dominance. Intimidation, fraud, and violence caused the number of African American voters to dwindle following the decline of the Republican Party. In some parts of the Delta, however, African Americans continued to vote and make up an important voting bloc following Reconstruction. In the 1880s, a curious form of political cooperation occurred between white Democrats and African American voters, especially in Bolivar County. A small number of African Americans continued to hold local office in Bolivar. Some white candidates courted African American votes by venturing to African American churches. In the late 1880s, it was not unusual to hear accusations of white candidates trying to bribe African American Delta voters. Although the vast majority of white Deltans were frustrated with the lingering presence of African American voters, the African American ballot still had some weight in local elections following Reconstruction. The 1890 Mississippi Constitution wiped out the last small vestiges of African American political power and influence in the Delta. At this time, whites in Mississippi feared the biracial Populist movement threatening Democratic rule in various parts of the South. The potential of poor whites and African Americans aligning against the white Democratic Party, as well as the possibility of federal oversight of elections through the Lodge Bill of 1890, convinced Mississippi’s Democratic leadership to develop various attempted constitutional measures to keep African Americans and some poor whites from voting. The disenfranchisement of African Americans came from several new constitutional provisions in 1890. First, paying a poll tax was required to vote. Second, if someone could afford to pay the poll tax, then he (women were not allowed to vote in Mississippi at this time) would have to either pass a literacy test or demonstrate an understanding of the state constitution that met the satisfaction of the county registrar. Other provisions led to the mass disenfranchisement of African American voters, but the poll tax, literacy test, and understanding clause were the most effective in making politics an all-white domain. Although delegates at Mississippi’s Constitutional Convention of 1890 admitted bluntly that the goal of the new laws was to The term Jim Crow, which came from a nineteenth-century minstrel show character, has been used not only to define the laws of racial segregation but to encompass the wider discrimination faced by African Americans until the 1960s.