African American History

Topics: African American, Racism, Harlem Renaissance Pages: 8 (2171 words) Published: February 2, 2015

African American History
Melissa Gehling
Inst. Andrew Cramer
July 28, 2014

1865 was a time for reconstruction. The Civil War ended and it was time to put America back together after being broken. The North and South both felt that to allow slavery or to abolish slavery is a state issue and not a federal issue, so one major cause known for war was the issue of slavery. In December of 1865 the 13th amendment was added to the constitution, which ended slavery. One of the major aspects of African American history is going from slavery to freedom. African Americans have come a long way since 1865, even though along the way fighting against racial prejudice, and fighting to become equal to white Americans, there were several acts/amendments giving them the freedom they have today and the ability of doing something extraordinary, such as becoming President.

During the reconstruction era slaves were let free, but in reality they had nowhere to go, nothing to eat, so African American’s struggled with their freedom and wanted the right to these things as white people. Johnson (1865) wrote, “We feel it to be very important that we obtain HOMES–owning our shelters, and the ground, that we may raise fruit trees, concerning which our children can say–“These are ours.” This comes out of a letter from a Northern teacher to the Freedmen’s Bureau commissioner looking for help with what African Americans needed after emancipation. When slavery ended African Americans were free, but they did not have anything or anywhere to go and thought they should have the same equal rights as white Americans. The Freedmen’s Bureau according to Bowles (2011) is “a government agency formed in March 1865 that sought to bring aid with food, clothing, and medical care to poor whites and blacks in the South” (section 1.1). Although the Freedmen’s Bureau is very significant to the helping of the freed slaves, it is not noted as one of the most significant events in African American history. I think the Freedmen’s Bureau was one of the first steps in helping slaves feel free. According to Donald (1956), “The creation of a Bureau of Refugees, Freedmen, and Abandoned lands, was designed to ‘help the Negroes make the difficult transition from slavery to freedom’ was an administration’s answer” (pg. 267). Besides food, clothing, and medical care, the Bureau helped encourage blacks to gain employment, encouraged farmers who did have plantations to rebuild their plantations, for whites and blacks to work together and employers and employees, help African Americans get in touch with family they lost, or find family for those who were lost, as well as teach them how to read and write to better themselves to help with their advancement in education. By the 1870’s the Bureau started to vanish, but in 1869 a new step for equality was granted for African Americans.

African Americans were fighting for suffrage, which the Black suffrage was the right for blacks to vote. The 15th amendment, which was ratified in 1870 was a new beginning and recognized African Americans as U.S. Citizens. The 15th amendment to the U.S. Constitution forbids the state and federal governments from refusing a citizen the right to vote based on the citizen's "color, race, or previous condition of servitude.” This being a step for equality for African Americans later on from about 1890 to 1910 a lot of black voters in the south were being disfranchised. According to Franklin (1957), “In 1890 some southern whites were celebrating what may well be described as an uneasy victory over the individuals and groups that favored the enfranchisement of the Negro” (pg. 241). Disfranchisement was an attempt by the southern states to prevent black citizens from registering to vote such as poll taxes, or literary tests even though the 15th amendment was put in places to protect suffrage or the freedmen after the Civil War....
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