What is the legacy of Reconstruction? The Successes and Failures of our "Union"

After the Civil War ended, our country faced a huge task to rebuild the nation politically, economically, and socially. The South was physically destroyed, thousands of slaves were free but jobless and poor, and the states that seceded had to be reunited. These issues were all addressed in multiple forms of Reconstruction put in place by presidents Lincoln and Johnson and also Congress. Although many positive establishments came out of Reconstruction such as the Freedmen's Bureau and new rights for African Americans, overall Reconstruction left a legacy of racism and persecution due to black codes and hate groups like the KKK formed by vengeful ex-Confederates.

The Fifteenth Amendment gave African Americans the right to vote and represented one of the most positive legacies of Reconstruction. After blacks were freed and granted citizenship, even with persecution and racist attitudes especially in the South, they continued to fight for equal political rights through their service in the Union army, protests and strikes, religious arguments, the establishments of strong black communities, and the emergence of black political leaders. With their new right to vote, African Americans largely influenced politics. Although member of racist hate organizations such as the KKK tried to intimidate black voters through violence, African Americans continued to exercise their new freedom and paved the way for their fight for equal rights.

This political cartoon represents one of the many challenges that African Americans faced after their newly gained rights were compromised by black codes in the South. Black codes that were introduced during Reconstruction eventually morphed into actual laws that persecuted blacks politically, economically, and socially. The purpose of this cartoon is to emphasize the struggle that many African Americans faced when they tried to exercise their right to vote. Literacy tests and poll taxes mainly targeted poor blacks who didn't have the resources or money to fulfill these requirements. Most freed slaves were never given the opportunity to learn to read while they were enslaved, so they were automatically denied of their right to vote.

The Civil Rights Act of 1964 was one of the main pieces of legislature signed during the Civil Rights Movement and it officially outlawed discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex, or national origin. The Civil Rights Movement itself was largely a legacy of Reconstruction because it was a continuation of African Americans fighting for equal rights through marches, protests, and strikes. Although blacks were initially granted many of these rights during Reconstruction, Jim Crow laws led to segregation that increased up into the 20th century. Even the KKK was reestablished during the Civil Rights Era. Through the brave efforts of many activists, such as Martin Luther King Jr and Rosa Parks, African Americans finally overcame segregation and discrimination and gained new rights in the 1960's.

Overall, the Reconstruction era represented many positive accomplishments for African Americans and Northerners, but as the southern states regained their power, it ultimately took a turn for the worst. The end of Reconstruction brought many violent and negative policies that continued in our country up until the Civil Rights Movement in the 1960's. This movement had many similarities to Reconstruction because it continued the fight for equality for African Americans through civil protest, strikes, and marches, all led by influential black leaders. The legacy of Reconstruction was persecution and racism, but eventually these ideals were mostly overcome during and after the Civil Rights Movement.

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