Racism was widely accepted and ingrained into much of Southern culture. For example, references to people of color included a variety of hateful terms and a general perception that they were inferior. African Americans were even thought of as property and less than human: under the Three-Fifths Compromise, each enslaved person was represented by three-fifths of a vote. In other similar examples like the Fugitive Slave Act, Southern slave owners could pursue runaway slaves into the North; however, many historians agree that slave owners abused the law to enslave freedmen in the North (“Fugitive Slave Acts”).
Although laws enabling racial discrimination officially died with the overruling of Jim Crow laws in the mid 1960s, racially-motivated encounters and extrajudicial punishments within law enforcement have remained hotly contested issues. The recent deaths of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor among others have served as a catalyst for widespread social movements. For example, “Black Lives Matter” protests swept across major US cities nationwide in the summer of 2020. Many major police departments of metropolitan areas are now undergoing reevaluations and are taking critical looks at officers who have long histories of complaints.