HIS 204: American History Since 1865
February 10, 2011
African Americans: Past, Present, and Future
African Americans have been through devastating trials and tribulations before 1865 and so on. Freedom following the Civil War was the beginning to a new face in such a head strong racist’s community. Slavery was only the beginning to the issues and derogatory mishaps in African American history. As if slavery wasn’t enough, blacks were subject to lynching, segregation, minimal to non-paying jobs, as well as simply being put down for having a darker skin tone than “the man”. Although things of this sort occurred, it never brought an end to hope, and now the horrific past has become a promising future.
Slavery was one of the first mishaps to occur in our American history. Slavery is defined as the state or condition of being a slave; a civil relationship, whereby one person has absolute power over another and controls his life, liberty, or fortune. Abraham Lincoln, one of America’s strongest leaders passed the Emancipation Proclamation in June of 1863. This proclaimed that 3.1 million slaves were freed as Union armies advanced. By the year 1865 nearly all of America’s slaves were free. For the most part, while most slaves were free, the Emancipation Proclamation did not make the use of slavery illegal in some states. Due to this issue and knowing that slavery was still legal in some states, the Thirteenth Amendment was enacted.
Shortly after the release of slaves, most slave owners were afraid that their homes and land was in danger from poorly treated slaves. In result of this America passed laws that were known as black codes. Black codes are a body of laws, statues, and rules enacted by southern states after the Civil War to gain control over the slaves again. They also wanted to ensure that would keep the white man active while keeping cheap labor in high demand. One of the first laws set for these black codes was that working African Americans were subject staying in the workplace at all times with no exceptions. In Mississippi, blacks were required to be employed and carry proof of their employment at all times. Blacks that refused to work were subject to corporal chastisement. In the event an African American was caught stealing, or any other crime, they may be hung by their thumbs. Although slaves were free, some still felt the need to have them under control.
After the Civil War, while the government in the South was weak, whites felt as if the blacks would become outraged and retaliate on the vicious treatment received by slave owners. In result, the Ku Klux Klan, or KKK was established in May of 1866. Most African Americans feared the KKK because they would operate in a very secretive manner. They were clothed in whited robes covered from head to toe, and would approach you by waiting for an event to end, and before you know it, blacks would be attacked and beat by members. They would punish blacks by hanging, lynching or beating innocent African Americans. With little to no law enforcement the KKK was able to continue this behavior for many years until 1871 when a force bill was established to combat the Klan. Even after this bill was passed, this did not prevent the Klan from continuing in other areas not very long after.
While African Americans were being freed from slavery, housing and basic necessities were difficult to obtain during this historical time. Due to this issue, also in the year 1865 America also established the Freedom’s Bureau. The Freedom’s Bureau was made to assist African Americans of the South to make a huge change from slavery to freedom. The Bureau did not have the support of the government financially, but still managed to help blacks on their journey. The bureau provided emergency food, clothing, and medical care to some war...