Reconstruction & Its Effects
I’Morri C. Ford
Florida A;M University
Reconstruction refers to the period following the Civil War of rebuilding the United States. It was a time of great pain and endless questions (Reconstruction, 2018). The Emancipation Proclamation of 1863 signed by President Abraham Lincoln freed the slaves in the Confederate states and later all slaves were free according to the Thirteenth amendment in 1865. Even though by law stated slaves were free it seemed as they were still in bondage because they were still treated cruelly and unfairly. Houston Hartsfield Holloway, wrote, “For we colored people did not know how to be free and the white people did not know how to have a free colored person about them.” Freed Slaves were able to fight in war but their full citizenship remained questioned. Black was seen as impure and evil and whites believed that they were not and would never be equal to them.
Terrorism by Whites
In Tennessee in 1866, angry white Southerners formalized their hatred in an organization known as The Ku Klux Klan. Billing itself as the protector of the Old South’s noble traditions, the Klan united resentful Confederates. The Klan used hoods and fiery crosses, secret codes and night raids to scare Blacks away from new opportunities (Carson, Werner, & Nash 2014). Terrorizing of blacks continued to spread throughout the world not just in Tennessee. This Klan burned down houses, killed African Americans, raped them, and lynched them to keep them oppressed and in fear. The Klan’s preference for killing was lynching, which was hanging Black Americans from trees using a rope around their necks. These heinous acts were committed in public and were advertised in local papers with horrific details. Pictures were even published with smiling crowds taking pictures of the lifeless bodies. These people were actually proud of the things they were doing.
Impacting African Americans.
One of the most major policies implemented were the Jim Crow Laws. Jim Crow was a slang term for black men. It made state laws that were passed different for whites and blacks based on White Supremacy and were put in place because of reconstruction (Costly, 2002). This was basically a response to Reconstruction. Whites believed that blacks could be separate but equal. They didn’t want to dine in the same place as blacks, use the same restroom, and work in the same place and etcetera. They limited the blacks from having a voice in elections by having requirements such as owning land or taking literacy test because they knew it was hard for most blacks to reach these requirements. Anything you could think of was segregated, schools, colleges, parks, phone booths, prisons and hospitals, and this oppression took place all over the United States. Signs were placed on all of these specific places and heavy consequences were barred if disobeyed. Alabama specifically placed a curfew on blacks demanding them not to leave their homes after 10 pm (Costley, 2002). These acts were not only humiliating, but they were also oppressing to these people of color. They were treated unfairly because of their skin color, which halted them from advancing in everyday society.
Reconstruction. (n.d.). Retrieved September 29, 2018, from http://www.ushistory.org/us/35.asp
T., W., R., A., S., L.Taylor, H., E., J., . . . E. (1998, February 09). The African American Odyssey: A Quest for Full Citizenship Reconstruction and Its Aftermath. Retrieved September 29, 2018, from https://www.loc.gov/exhibits/african-american-odyssey/reconstruction.html
Carson, C., Lapsansky-Werner, E. J., & Nash, G. B. (2014). The struggle for freedom: A history of African Americans. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall/Pearson Education.
Lynching in America. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.pbs.org/wgbh/americanexperience/features/emmett-lynching-america/
Costly, A. (2002). A Brief History of Jim Crow. Retrieved September 29, 2018, from http://www.crf-usa.org/black-history-month/a-brief-history-of-jim-crow