Reconstruction Memorial Kelly Peters

The Reconstruction era posed many social, political, and economic problems for African Americans after the Civil War. One major issue was citizenship: according to the 14th amendment in the Constitution, all people born in the US were citizens and had equal protection under the laws. Another issue concerned the 15th amendment: blacks had the right to vote and could not be denied because of their race. However, issues regarding both of these amendments arose with various impediments, discrimination, and ignorance. Actions in this era seemed questionable when considering their abidance to the law. Although blacks were legally guaranteed these rights, constitutional principles were challenged by weak reinforcement and Southern voting obstacles.

The passage of the 14th amendment legally acknowledged the right to citizenship of all people regardless of race for the first time. Although the enforcement of this was not strict, the documentation of the fact that people cannot be denied "life, liberty, or property" and were granted "equal protection of the laws" was a huge step in the overall civil rights movement. This major recognition of human rights at a national level created a foundation for the Reconstruction civil rights movement and the latter civil rights movement.
The 15th amendment allowing blacks to vote was not enforced due to obstacles set in place by the Southern states. Although the amendment stated that they could not be denied their right to vote based on "race, color, or previous condition of servitude," things such as literacy tests and poll taxes prohibited many blacks from actually voting even though they legally could. For example, the blacks standing in line to vote were probably hindered by random and useless impediments set in place by the South. Because the full potential of the amendment was not recognized in about half the nation, this can be viewed as a huge failure of Reconstruction.
Unsettled animosity toward a race of people struggling to be seen as full citizens led to the brutal murder of Emmett Till. An innocent gesture in the context of racial tensions exemplifies the lingering negative feelings of whites toward blacks. A hate crime violating his right to life in the 14th amendment shows a sad and unimproved racially-challenged society.

Overall, the Reconstruction era can be viewed as a failure to uphold basic constitutional principles. The Civil Rights movement, which can be seen as a legacy of this era, exemplifies many of the struggles that Reconstruction blacks faced. Law enforcement working against the people rather than with the people, justice not being served to the full extent, and disregard to the rule of equal protection under the law are just a few of the many similarities between the two.

Made with Adobe Slate

Make your words and images move.

Get Slate

Report Abuse

If you feel that this video content violates the Adobe Terms of Use, you may report this content by filling out this quick form.

To report a Copyright Violation, please follow Section 17 in the Terms of Use.