To separate african americans and whites in public life -when democrats returned to power, they reversed these laws and drew a color line between blacks and whites in public life. whites called the new segregation acts jim crow laws. jim crow was a black character in an entertainers act in the mid-1800s.many southern states passed laws requiring citizens who wanted to vote to pay a poll tax. the tax was set high enough that voting, like education, became a luxury that many black southerners could not afford.some southern states also required citizens to pass a literacy test to show they could read before allowing them to vote. these tests were designed so that any african american, regardless of his education, would fail.in theory, these laws applied equally to blacks and whites and, for that reason, did not violate the fifteenth amendment. in practice, however, whites were excused from paying poll taxes or taking literacy tests by a so-called grandfather clause in the laws. this clause said the taxes and tests did not apply to any man whose father or grandfather could vote on january 1, 1867. since no blacks could vote on that date, the grandfather clause applied only to whites.