Big Jim C.—a police offer who tortures Black civil rights protestors alongside Jesse—symbolizes the violence of the Jim Crow laws that upheld racial segregation in the U.S. South from the 1870s through 1965. Big Jim C. is introduced near the beginning of the story when Jesse tells Grace about his day, describing how Black protestors had formed a line at the courthouse to register to vote and “wouldn’t stay where Big Jim C. wanted them to.” This is a nod to the way that Jim Crow physically limited where Black people were allowed to go, requiring them to use “Colored” bathrooms, water fountains, and more. Despite the fact that Jesse and Big Jim C. beat the protestors and throw them in jail, the protestors continue to sing their songs of resistance, signifying the era of equality that is to come.
Big Jim C. Quotes in Going to Meet the Man
“They had this line you know, to register”—he laughed, but she did not—“and they wouldn’t stay where Big Jim C. wanted them, no, they had to start blocking traffic all around the court house so couldn’t nothing or nobody get through, and Big Jim C. told them to disperse and they wouldn’t move, they just kept up that singing, and Big Jim C. figured that the others would move if this nigger would move, him being the ring-leader, but he wouldn’t move and he wouldn’t let the others move, so they had to beat him and a couple of the others and they threw in the wagon…”