African-American History Since Reconstruction Research Paper

Pages: 4 (1306 words)  ·  Bibliography Sources: 4  ·  File: .docx  ·  Level: College Junior  ·  Topic: Black Studies

Assassination of President Lincoln was not merely a tragic event because it marked the death of the man who had led the nation through its tumultuous Civil War: it also had a lasting impact upon the future of Reconstruction. President Andrew Johnson had a very hostile attitude towards the pro-Northern Congress and made every effort to block African-American enfranchisement. To ensure the protection of African-American rights, Congress created the Freedmen's Bureau. "Its purpose was to provide education and training for Blacks in their transition from slavery to freedom" (Jackson 2013). Congress also overrode Johnson's veto to pass the 14th Amendment. However, Reconstruction was a relatively fleeting period of time and by its end, Southern states had enacted substantial blocks to prevent African-Americans from voting, including voting screening tests, poll taxes, mandated segregations in public places and schools, and anti-miscegenation laws. When Congress made acceptance of the 14th Amendment a precondition for reentering the Union, it "met with violent opposition. Despite the presence of the military, Whites went on a rampage killing, beating, burning, and destroying any Blacks they could find. Blacks were lynched by the hundreds" (Jackson 2013). Johnson was unable to exercise effective control over the South.

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Research Paper on African-American History Since Reconstruction Assignment

"When Louisiana passed the Separate Car Act, legally segregating common carriers in 1892, a black civil rights organization decided to challenge the law in the courts. [Homer] Plessy deliberately sat in the white section and identified himself as black" (Wormser 2002). Plessy was Creole and could easily have 'passed' for white but was considered black under Louisiana laws. The U.S. Supreme Court found in favor of the proponents of segregation, arguing that separate facilities were not a violation of the 14th Amendment so long as they were equal in nature. "The Plessy decision set the precedent that 'separate facilities for blacks and whites were constitutional as long as they were 'equal'" and quickly all spheres of life, "such as restaurants, theaters, restrooms, and public schools" were segregated and unchallenged even though the accommodations for whites were never equal to those of blacks (Wormser 2002).

Publication of W.E.B. DuBois' The Souls of Black Folk (1903)

W.E.B. DuBois was one of the most prominent African-American intellectuals: he was Harvard-educated and an influential proponent of the notion of the 'talented tenth,' or the need to educate the most talented African-Americans as a way of advancing the progress of his race as a whole. The Souls of Black Folk is a series of essays on the topic of race, spanning everything from jazz (which DuBois regards as a unique cultural expression of America and a testimony to African-American's cultural contribution to the nation that enslaved them) to African-Americans' need to accommodate white society to live even while they were always simultaneously aware that they and their culture was regarded as alienated. "It is a peculiar sensation, this double-consciousness, this sense of always looking at one's self through the eyes of others, of measuring one's soul by the tape of a world that looks on in amused contempt and pity" (Wormser, citing DuBois 2002). W.E.B. DuBois also discussed the death of his child and the fact that as well as sorrow at the child's passing, he also was aware of the fact that the child died without a sense of racial consciousness and therefore died 'innocent' in a manner that no adult African-American could be in segregated America.

Desegregation of the armed forces (1948)

One of the great ironies of World War II was that while African-Americans were fighting for freedom for others in Europe and Asia, and waging a war against prejudice and hatred, they still faced discrimination at home. Even the U.S. armed forces were not desegregated until after World War II in 1948, after an executive order by President Truman. Truman was a strong supporter of African-American equality. "Truman was already looking ahead to the near certain conflict with… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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