What was the African American reaction to freedom? How did they deal with it? What did they do?
After freedom, African Americans had renewed hope of changing their lives for the better. African Americans made numerous efforts to find members of their families that had been separated from them due to slavery. They founded the Freedman’s Bureau that mainly concentrated on helping freed slaves to acquire labor contracts, land, food, and medical care. They also helped the freed slaves to establish churches.
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However, the Freedman’s Bureau faced major challenges due to a lack of resources. The bureau also helped champion African Americans’ rights by pushing for the 14th and 15th amendments of the constitution that would give African Americans voting rights (Hine 2011). Their efforts, however, faced a major blow when Abraham Lincoln was assassinated. The administration that took over the reins of power did little to help African Americans.
What were the terms and limitations of the 14th and 15th Amendments to the Constitution? Who was left out of these amendments and why?
The 14th amendment came at a time when Andrew Johnson was president. Andrew Johnson allowed the southern states to establish a discriminatory legal system that undermined the rights of the black people. Johnson’s policies prompted the republicans to take action. They took control of both houses of congress and pushed through the 14th and 15th amendments of the constitution (Hine 2011). The 14th amendment allowed African Americans who had been serving as slaves to be granted citizenship through naturalization. The 15th amendment on the other hand granted African Americans rights to hold political office.
However, these amendments did not take effect in the southern states. Blacks in the southern states were not granted voting rights until the year 1965 when the voting act was enacted (Dagbovie 2010). In order to take part in elections, African Americans were subjected to literacy tests. Initially, political leaders in the south had helped champion better schools, fair labor practices, and better economic conditions. However, a wave of violence led by the KKK prevented these leaders to continue fighting for the rights of African Americans (Hine 2011).
Explain the outbreak of lynching across the South after Reconstruction. What were its causes? How did whites at the time justify it? Explain the development of the anti-lynching movement among African American and white women
After reconstruction, whites in the southern states worked round the clock to ensure that Africans did not take part in politics. Whites also came up with new pieces of legislation that did not allow the full implementation of the 15th amendment. The whites introduced poll taxes and literacy tests to prevent African Americans from voting. Through the introduction of Jim Crow segregation laws, African Americans were not allowed to use the same facilities together with the whites (Hine 2011).
African Americans did not take the segregation laws lightly; they decided to oppose the laws by protesting and filing legal cases. Their efforts faced a major blow when the Supreme Court fully enforced the segregation laws in the 1896 Plessey vs. Ferguson case (Holt 1997). It was at this time that the whites decided to enforce the segregation laws by lynching African Americans who attempted to compete with them politically or economically (Dagbovie 2010).
The anti-lynching campaign started in the 1890s and was spearheaded by Ida B. Wells-Barnett. She expressed her outrage by writing newspaper articles condemning the vice. She was soon joined by organizations such as the National Association of Colored Women (NACW), the Association of Southern Women for Prevention of Lynching (ASWPL), and the National Association of Colored People (NACP). Together, they formed a formidable force that helped kick start the anti-lynching campaign (Holt 1997).
Dagbovie, P. G. (2010). African American history reconsidered. Urbana: University of Illinois Press.
Hine, D. C. (2011). African American odyssey. S.l: Prentice Hall.
Holt, T. C. (1997). African-American History. The new American history, 211-31.