The Reconstruction era was the period subsequent to the Civil War between the years 1865 and 1877. One of the most important issues, if not the most, during this time was the role of former slaves in society. African Americans experienced improved civil rights as indicated by the approval of the fourteenth amendment as well as the Civil Rights Act of 1866. However, these advancements would be balanced out by the strong opposition by ex-Confederates and other southern democrats. That leads to the question, how exactly did the Reconstruction era shape the role of African Americans in society? The period after the Civil War created the ideology that blacks could potentially be equally functioning members of society which led to further discussions of civil rights.
Despite the struggles of the African Americans during the Reconstruction era, there were many accomplishments pertaining to civil rights that paved the way for further benefits. Being freed from slavery, blacks could progress to become independent and seek full autonomy from whites. In order to refrain from violence or hate, black communities built public institutions such as churches and schools specifically for their own race. This is seen as a great advancement, as environments were created where African Americans could learn and become functioning members of society. Also, prominent African American leaders arose such as Frederick Douglass who gave a voice for the people seeking further rights. Unlike prior to the Reconstruction period, African American leaders were able to spread awareness of civil rights and communities now had safe places to actively engage in society.
Although African Americans gained many rights that were not previously granted to them, they still faced significant resistance. For example, white radical groups such as the Ku Klux Klan did all they could, ranging from hanging people to burning down buildings, to prevent African Americans from socially progressing in society. Additionally, ex-Confederates were granted rights of amnesty to be allowed seats in the national government. This was unfortunate for the blacks because the overlying goal of politicians in the government shifted from social equality to other issues facing the nation. Another form of opposition to the African Americans was the introduction of Black Codes. These laws were put into place in the south and were almost no better than slavery itself. Therefore, the Reconstruction era had many failures due to all of the resistance against blacks who were seeking further rights.
The Reconstruction era, like any other period in time, had many positive outcomes as well as negative. After the Civil War, tensions were still very high between the northern republicans and southern democrats. One of the main focuses of the Reconstruction era was to restore unity among the nation. However, the controversial topic of the role of blacks continued to trouble the nation and still kept many people split apart. After establishing that blacks were not meant to be slaves, there was still a great debate on how far their rights should extend. The Reconstruction era did prove to be successful as many of the problems that faced African Americans were combated by government officials to ensure that their rights would continue to advance.
In the perspective of the African Americans, the Reconstruction era was far from perfect. From lynchings by the Ku Klux Klan to discrimination from the Black Codes, many blacks still endured horrible conditions. However, this period proved to be very important as it paved the way for further pushes towards equality. For once, Congress acknowledged the rights of African Americans by passing amendments and other acts. There was finally recognition of these people as members of society just like anyone else living in the nation. Many of these former slaves transitioned from being bound by chains to living on property of their own. Also, for once these people were given the opportunity to vote in elections to support candidates who will stand up for their beliefs. Overall, the hardships during the Reconstruction era were overwhelmed by the amount of progress that had occurred towards social equality.