Reconstruction the limitations of the freedman

The most important change by the end of the Civil War was the Emancipation of the African Americans- a much feared action by southern whites. Nonetheless, it was a huge milestone for the Northerners and blacks alike. A vast majority of the white southerners strongly held on to their belief on their racial superiority. They believed that the Emancipation was the beginning of a horrendous future. How did these supremacists retaliate? They were successful in oppression through segregation laws such as the black codes. However, there was some progress of blacks- the advancement of their education. All in all, the effects of this oppression can be seen even today in the courts systems today.

A sign that claims only white people are served

In 1866, the state of North Carolina passed a set of laws called the black codes that entailed what an African American can and cannot do. These laws limited the freedom they had been given by the Emancipation. For example, blacks could only testify in court if it was against another black man. And the punishments for a black who committed the same mistake as a white man would be much harsher. In fact, Sec.11 states that " any person of color convicted... of... rape upon... a white female, shall suffer death." A white woman is protected under law, but a black woman is not. If a white man rapes a woman, his punishment would never be as harsh. In this way the law was shaped to protect white people, not blacks. Blacks lived in fear of the law. Another law in the black codes included that African Americans cannot be caught with a knife or firearm. The punishment for such a petty crime would be tremendous. In this way, blacks had to live in constant fear for the police. They had to watch their every little action. This oppression limited the things that black could do and were willing to do.

African American students in a school funded by the Freedman's Bureau

African American, with the help of government help, were able to make advancements in education. The goal of the Freedman's Bureau was to overlook the transition of former slaves to a free society. It was successful in providing the blacks with plenty of educational opportunities. The freedmen and women were more than willing to make use of it. They were insistent on sending their kids to school, understanding its importance in their future. More than 1,000 African American schools were built and staffed with qualified instructors. In fact, most of the major African American colleges in the United States were founded with the assistance of the bureau. The Bureau was discontinued in 1869. However, since education was the most successor branch in the bureau, it continued until 1872.

The court systems are jaded today due to the racially biased laws and beliefs that persisted in the society during and even after Reconstruction. Although the constitution provides equal protection to everyone under law regardless of race, six times more black people are arrested than white people even though the crime rate for the two tends to be the same. Police officers tend to have "quotas" of how many people they can arrest that they have to fulfill in order to make profits. In order to fulfill these agendas, police officers tend to arrest those who "look" like criminals... black men are targeted. One in three black men can expect to be arrested whereas only one in seventeen white men will be arrested. Unjust societal beliefs have attributed black men as criminals. The Reconstruction did not end by providing equal protection to blacks under law or societal eyes. The effect of such can be seen today.

Reconstruction was expected to be a time of great change for whites and blacks alike- as the two groups of people adjusted to their new lifestyles in the south. However, the change was met with much hostility. Southern whites were hesitant to provide equality. But the blacks worked relentlessly to make use of their new found freedom and resources. They toiled to build a life for themselves and their children. Today, the effect of the oppression can still be seen. One evident occurrence is in the legal systems. They are still being robbed of the social equality that they deserve.

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.