The Civil War was fought for many reasons, but a primary reason was the issue regarding slavery. During the war, Abraham Lincoln announced the freeing of all slaves in the North, and after the Union won the war, Congress formally passed the 13th Amendment, which granted freedom to all slaves in the United States of America. While slaves were now free, they still struggled to find equality in a society which had no respect for them. They still faced heavy discrimination, in the North as well as the South. African Americans soon realized "free" did not mean "equal". The rights extended to former slaves varied from place to place, with some places with nearly equal rights, and others with no or next to no rights. After the Civil War, African Americans received an improved status, but still remained socially inferior.
14th Amendment to the Constitution
In the Reconstruction era, slaves officially became free from bondage with the passing of the 13th Amendment. However, they were still treated as if they were not citizens, and given a lower status as non-citizens. When the 14th Amendment was passed, all people born in the United States were considered equal citizens. This opened up opportunities for African Americans to receive equal treatment, which was backed up by the law. The passing of this bill made it possible for African Americans to vote in elections, as well as own property. In theory, the 14th amendment granted equality to all people, including black slaves, a huge step forward and a major event in the Reconstruction era.
White people were not at all inclined to give African Americans the rights they deserved, especially in the South. When the 14th Amendment was passed, it was illegal to outright ban black people from voting. However, there was a development of racist "laws" known as Jim Crow laws, which were targeted specifically at African Americans to prevent them from voting, as well as do other things which would make them members of society, such as own land or run for office. An example of an action which would make it difficult for an African American to vote was a poll tax, which was required to be eligible to vote. Most African Americans, having just been freed from slavery had little or no cash, a fact which was well known by white people. Also there were literacy tests, unconstitutional tests given to see whether the voter could read, one again targeted at African Americans. These actions prohibited from African Americans from being a functioning part of society, and a major failing of the Reconstruction era.
Protestors in Ferguson, MO
The treatment of black people in the period of reconstruction carried on throughout history. African Americans continued to be the victim of segregation and racial profiling. They would be forced to be separate from white people, and have less rights in society. Despite the passing of the 14th amendment which guaranteed the equal status of all people born or naturalized in the US, black people were still subject to prevention from voting, or attending schools which did not allow black people, up until the 1960s. Even to this day black people are not treated equally as seen with the amount of police brutality against African Americans, and the number of African Americans incarcerated. The sentiment towards black people in the Reconstruction era carries a legacy of social inequality to this day.
Martin Luther King Jr. addresses a crowd in Washington DC during a march to advocate civil rights for minorities,
The period of Reconstruction was similar to the civil rights movement in the 1960s, when African Americans advocated for more rights, and equality they deserved. Both periods led to increased rights, for example the Reconstruction era led to the 13th and 14th amendments, which freed African Americans from bondage forever and made them equal citizens, while in the 1960s African Americans gained equality by being able to vote equally, and stopping the segregation of schools, stores, and transportation. Both periods also did not completely make African Americans equal, in the Reconstruction era, there was still rampant racism, and in the 1960s, African Americans were, and still are, treated poorly despite being equal to white people.