Reconstruction: The successes, failures and legacy by jaelen lockyer

Where did the reconstruction start and where did it go awry?

As we can see in this cartoon, Lincoln's vision for the end goal to reach was the elevation of the African American ethnic group as a whole up to equality of life with those of the white ethnicity. In reality, this was not Lincoln's vision at all, but radical Republicans who introduced legislation against the previously confederate states to make the middle black family come true. For a while it seemed like that family may actually be a possibility, despite the freed slave population being essentially at ground zero in terms of economic wealth when compared to white counterparts and not being on equal social footing as well. Once troops instilled by the federal U.S. government were withdrawn and the focus of the northern governance shifted away from the reconstruction efforts towards economic issues and President Grant's corruption scandals, all of the progress of the reconstruction in the southern states became undone. Voting rights for African American men, specifically in the south, were withheld and suppressed by new white supremacist group(s), mainly the KKK, that spawned out of the "Lost Cause" movement that began after the end of the Civil war by ex-Confederate soldiers. Legal freedoms granted by the previously passed amendments (13th, 14th, and 15th) as well as personal freedoms like being treated as a human being, among other things, were also suppressed and the African American community as a whole fell under oppression by white supremacists as well as laws, systems, and philosophy that were put in place to maintain white supremacy.

This carried on relatively unchallenged by both the northern states and southern Republicans and African Americans until......

By the 1950's and 1960's the need for change reached a fever point. The wealth disparity and inequality in jobs as well as in every day life for African Americans in the United States was finally too much to wait to fix. Police brutality as an institution of government sanctioned oppression of the African American community as well as lynchings by the KKK were common. The time for the fight for desegregation, voting rights, and the right to be treated as a human being who should not be killed or judged for their skin tone was now in full swing. The approaches of violent, violent when provoked, and nonviolent groups combated inequality to the best of their abilities, despite losing prominent leaders such as Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and Malcolm X to assassinations. Finally, civil rights legislation was passed and although it did not nearly solve all of the issues presented, it was enough progress for then in the eyes of the law makers of the time as well as for white people.

How can the effects of reconstruction be seen today?

Today the issues that remained unresolved from the civil rights movement are now coming back to a forefront. The KKK is back on the rise, police brutality is rampant and disproportionately impacts the African American community, wealth disparity between both gender and ethnicity is becoming more and more prominent by the day, and the African American community specifically is disproportionately incarcerated in prisons across the country (these amongst many other social issues as well). These issues are still a stain on our country's tablecloth that have yet to be cleaned thoroughly and washed out. Perhaps this time America will finally get it right.

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