Origin of the term “Jim Crow”

The term Jim Crow is believed to have originated around 1830 when a white, minstrel show performer, Thomas "Daddy" Rice, blackened his face with charcoal paste or burnt cork and danced a ridiculous jig while singing the lyrics to the song, "Jump Jim Crow." Rice created this character after seeing (while traveling in the South) a crippled, elderly black man (or some say a young black boy) dancing and singing a song ending with these chorus words:

"Weel about and turn about and do jis so,
Eb'ry time I weel about I jump Jim Crow."

Some historians believe that a Mr. Crow owned the slave who inspired Rice's act--thus the reason for the Jim Crow term in the lyrics. In any case, Rice incorporated the skit into his minstrel act, and by the 1850s the "Jim Crow" character had become a standard part of the minstrel show scene in America.


Image and Description Source: http://www.jimcrowhistory.org/history/creating2.htm

Audio Source: http://americanradioworks.publicradio.org/features/remembering/bitter.html