Jailing the Negro was once as much of a threat as the loss of a job.

To any Negro who displayed a spark of manhood, a southern law-enforcement officer could say: “N—-, watch your step, or I’ll put you in jail.” The Negro knew what going to jail meant. It meant not only confinement and isolation from his loved ones. It meant that at the jailhouse he could probably expect a severe beating. And it meant that his day in court, if he had it, would be a mockery of justice.

Martin Luther King Jr., Why We Can’t Wait, published 1964. 


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