During this time period, the split between the Union and Confederates created a different perspective regarding the situation of blacks and their impact on society. Actions such as the reconstruction amendments and the Freedman's Bureau impacted the lives of blacks in a positive way. However, certain groups such as the white supremacists or the Ku Klux Klan in the south neglected the rights that were given to blacks such as voting which eventually led to mass murders. How did the Reconstruction era change the racial tensions during the time period? Reconstruction impacted the lives that have been affected by racism in both positive and negative ways and certainly left a legacy on the time periods yet to come.
Success of Reconstruction
The 13th, 14th, and 15th Amendments, known collectively as the Civil War Amendments, were designed to ensure equality for recently emancipated slaves. The 13th Amendment banned slavery and all involuntary servitude, except in the case of punishment for a crime. The 14th Amendment defined a citizen as any person born in or naturalized in the U.S., overturning the Dred Scott V. Sandford (1857) Supreme Court ruling stating that Black people were not eligible for citizenship. The 15th Amendment prohibited governments from denying U.S. citizens the right to vote based on race, color, or past servitude. The success of these three amendments gave blacks a chance to participate in society.
"Constitutional Amendments." Encyclopedia of the United States in the Nineteenth Century, edited by Paul Finkelman, Charles Scribner's Sons, 2001. U.S. History in Context, Accessed 15 Jan. 2017.
Failure of Reconstruction
During the reconstruction era, white supremacy was rising as a constant conflict against the black’s rights to vote and other political/economical reasons after the Civil War. The intended audience of this image is the political leaders all across America and people in America that are in both the North and the South. The purpose is to inform the people in America that white supremacy is overpowering the blacks in America as they continue to lose rights after the Civil War. The establishment of the black vote was hindered by groups such as the Ku Klux Klan created by Nathan Bedford Forrest and a variety of white supremacists in the south. Although the black soldiers were granted to vote after serving, white supremacists united together in order to limit their rights.
Bartoletti, Susan C. They Called Themselves the K.k.k: The Birth of an American Terrorist Group. , 2010. Print.
Legacy of Reconstruction
Civil Rights Act of 1964
After the end of the Reconstruction era, America had hopes of ending racial tensions between blacks and whites which is what the Civil Rights Act of 1964 accomplished. The Civil Rights Act of 1964, which ended segregation in public places and banned employment discrimination on the basis of race, color, religion, sex or national origin, is considered one of the crowning legislative achievements of the civil rights movement. First proposed by President John F. Kennedy, it survived strong opposition from southern members of Congress and was then signed into law by Kennedy’s successor, Lyndon B. Johnson. In subsequent years, Congress expanded the act and also passed additional legislation aimed at bringing equality to African Americans, such as the Voting Rights Act of 1965.
Benson, Sonia, et al. "Civil Rights Act of 1964." UXL Encyclopedia of U.S. History, vol. 2, UXL, 2009, pp. 299-302. U.S. History in Context, Accessed 15 Jan. 2017.
Overall, a trio of constitutional amendments abolished slavery, made the former slaves citizens and gave all men the right to vote regardless of race following the Civil War. Nonetheless, many Southern states used poll taxes, literacy tests and other similar measures to keep their African-American residents essentially defenseless. They also enforced strict segregation through “Jim Crow” laws and condoned violence from white supremacist groups like the Ku Klux Klan. Furthermore, racism during the 1960's and slavery during the colonial times were both similar in regards to their opinion on the situation. Although both were wrong and included the discrimination of millions of blacks, many whites thought that it would eventually get fixed. As a result, colonists were not dealing with the problem which led to an increase in racial tension over time.