Cultural Background

Segregation. The most fitting description of the American nation these times. Poverty and prosperity, as a daily opposite, could be found everywhere in cities and rural areas. Several public establishments, like churches, schools or bars were separated for Blacks and Whites, as defined in the “black codes”. Located in central areas, there were institutions for Whites, as a contrast a far cry from the center the locations for colored people. For more than 200 years before the Civil War, slavery has existed in the USA but was abolished in the 19th century. After this period of time, things didn’t change much for Blacks as a result of segregation.
However, there was the first success for black sportsmen in the USA, e.g. in athletics or Baseball.
Furthermore, Blues Music, typical black music, became popular all over the world, which could be seen as one of the first steps out of segregation and racial discrimination.
For colored people the situation of segregation wasn’t easy because they had to fight against many prejudices and injustice of the government. They were excluded and weren’t treated like human beings but rather as animals or useless things. In addition, Blacks had to work on plantations under bad conditions, were they had to gather tobacco, rice, cotton or sugar cane.
Today, we couldn’t imagine living like in these days because we have never experienced something similar to that.

Luisa Buhleier

Social Background

In 1940 racial segregation and discrimination was a big problem because the Blacks were treated badly by white people. Only in France and England they were seen as heroes because they fought for their rights and the natives of these countries weren’t racist.
During the Second World War many black farmers moved to the cities because farming was becoming more and more commercial and they could also work in factories in which they earned more money than farming. The cities were also seen as a safe place for the black people.
But even after the end of slavery the Blacks were discriminated. They didn’t have the same education like the Whites and they didn’t find work very often. That’s the reason why many black people moved to the cities in the north of America but in the cities they were separated from white people so more and more ghettos emerged.
In 1945 black people were firstly allowed to vote but they were not always represented fairly. Harry Truman tried to fight for their rights but they were never treated as human beings. However, Whites didn’t want to see the Blacks as an equal part of the society.

Vanessa Braner

Racial Segregation in the US

After the compromise of 1877, which was a deal between the former Confederate States of America and the “Union” and effected the retreat of remained troops in the southern states that had lost the American Civil War, in the south of the USA were enacted the so-called Jim Crow laws dictating the racial segregation between whites and blacks. Blacks were not allowed to visit the same schools, theaters, restaurants, bars, waiting rooms and even public toilets. So in those laws the wide spreading racism, in the southern states of the USA, which has his origin in the slavery, abolished on December 6, 1865 in the whole USA and the many farms in the south using the slaves as cheap workers, can be seen very easily. These laws existed also in the north of the US called “separate but equal” and claiming that there wasn´t any segregation but had de facto a similar effect. Feeling oppressed by these laws many blacks moved to the north, where they had to recognize that the law was not as strict as in the south concerning racial segregation but the de facto segregation was nearly the same. Furthermore, there was high unemployment in the south because the cotton and sugarcane farms lost importance for the US economy and the automobile industry in northern cities like Detroit and Chicago became more important and offered jobs.
Even in the army segregation can be found during World War II where blacks fought equally to whites. But the tactical units had to be segregated, too and the black troops were commanded by white officers. The hope of many blacks to gain more respect and acceptance by fighting for their home country was dashed. Just in officer candidate schools had blacks and whites to train together (since 1942).

Konstantin Hirdina

School System

In earlier times, the school system in the United States was quite different.
Especially black children and teenagers had got much fewer possibilities in education.
In the 16th and 17th century, some schools were built, like the famous Harvard College, the first public school and finally the first schools for black-skinned pupils were established.
After the declaration of independence in 1777, the number of schools for Blacks increased but there were still some laws that forbid enslaved Africans to go to school.
The real improvement for pupils disadvantaged by government, was after the Civil War in 1865.
Whereas until the 19th century the separation of Blacks and Whites in class was really strict, in the 20th century, to be concrete in 1964, the discrimination of other races, color, national origin and sex was prohibited with the Federal Civil Rights Act.
Nowadays the US school system cannot be seen as one, because education is organized by certain school districts. However, it can although be divided in elementary school, secondary education and post secondary education. In the USA, students first go into the so-called nursery school or preschool at the age of 3 to 5. After that you go to kindergarten until you are 6 years old, which is similar to the German 1st grade. Elementary school starts next until you are ten, eleven or 12, depends on your learning ability and school district. When elementary school ends with the 4th grade, you change to middle school and with the age of 13 high school begins and ends after 4 years including a high school diploma. But when it ends after the 5th grade, you go to junior high until the age of 14 and then going to Senior High until you are 17 and leaving it including a high school diploma, too. And the last possibility, ending primary school with 6th grade, is followed by the combined junior-senior high until 17 again, and also ends with a high school diploma. This makes education more unitary and everybody is able to leave school with a diploma.
After diploma, students also have the possibility to go to university, college or programs and studies.
Grant Wiggins is a teacher of black children. He teaches them in a church for five and a half months, exactly from October to the middle of April. Every lesson begins with the Pledge of Allegiance and the recitation of Bible verses. The children are divided in primer grade up to sixth grade. The students of sixth grade are supposed to teach the younger ones. In the church, there are several blackboards on which the pupils should practice writing sentences. The teaching methods for children are strict in these days, because the teacher slaps his students if they did something wrong or weren't polite to him. The weeks before visiting Jefferson in jail, the superintendent comes, so Grant wants the pupils to appear cleanly and behave well. The superintendent, Dr. Joseph Morgan, visits the school one-time during the school period and he is supposed to control, how Wiggins teaches the children. He calls up several students to look at their hands and to recite a bible verse. In his opinion, the students have to work hard, because it’s the best for young bodies. He gives leads on good nutrition, as well. When Grant asks him for new and better school material, he makes clear to him, that he hasn’t got the right to have new material. In the opposite, he suggests him to letting the pupils work. In general, it isn’t easy for Grant to teach pupils of different ages and levels at the same time. In addition, he has to face with the inequality between schools for Blacks and for Whites.

Julia Becker, Franziska v. Kietzell, Jaqueline Elbert

US Criminal Procedure

The process of the criminal procedure is under strict rules and has normally the same structure. The first step is the preliminary investigation by public prosecution and the help of the police. The public prosecution can make a direct accusation in form of a Bill of Information, which is the most current way or they can accuse person through the Grand juries, which is ruled by the 5th accessory article in case of a grave crime. Before the second step the defendant can chose if he wants to use the right of a jury court, which is chosen by the defendant himself or his legal adviser and the public prosecution. Otherwise, if the defendant does not use his right, the court hearing will only be in front of a judge.
The second step is the litigation, in which the public prosecution must prove the defendant´s guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. During the process the public prosecution first has the chance to show their results of the preliminary investigation and to call a witness.
After this, the defense can make an application for closing of the proceedings if the public prosecution has not enough or less adequate evidence.
The defense also presents their side and tries to prove the innocence of the defendant, for this they can also call a witness for the defense. Every witness can be asked questions by the other side every time. The defendant has the right to refuse giving evidence (5th accessory article), but if he uses this right he isn´t longer able to be his own witness for the defense.
Subsequently, a pleading of both sides follows and the defendant has the last word. Thereupon, the jury leaves the court room for a secret counsel which must be concordant. The pronouncement of the judgment takes place in front of both sides.
The punishment action after the pronouncement is the last step in the criminal procedure. It occurs at another time and with another judge. In case of a capital punishment, the jury must be attendant after the pronouncement of the capital letters supreme court of the United States. (Same way as in the litigation; possibility to decrease the degree of penalty). The pronouncement is preliminary valid but a refutation of the defendant is possible, then the whole criminal procedure comes under scrutiny. The appellate court can acknowledge the pronouncement of the jury or they can order a new process. Also, they can claim the release of the defendant or the replication of the process. After the possible acquittal of the defendant, the pronouncement is valid, also in case of the application for closing the proceeding had been approved.

Lara Frieske, Sofia Schwantner

Death Penalty

Death penalty, also called capital punishment, is the situation in which a government or a state executes someone, because he or she has done a serious crime, such as murder.
There are different kinds of death penalty: death by electrocution, death in a gas chamber, administering of a lethal injection, hanging or shooting.
The defendant can choose death by electrocution if he doesn’t want to get a lethal injection.
Altogether, since 1976, the end of the moratorium, 1379 people in the United States died because of death penalty, but the number has declined since 2003.
Executions in most countries have become rarer in recent centuries. But in the USA only 19 states out of 50 don’t practice this kind of punishment, such as New York.
The death penalty is a disputed and controversial topic.
About one third of the countries in the world have laws that allow the death penalty. The United states, China, Japan and Iran, for example.
Most of the countries that have a death penalty dispose it on assassins and terrorists.
The opinions about death penalty are different. Some people support this kind of punishment and others are of the mind that death penalty is against human rights.

Tessa Bachmann, Jasmin Irrgang