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African Americans During Reconstruction Essay

628 words - 3 pages

Free at Last, Free at Last I thank God I am Free at Last. “For we colored people did not know how to be free and the white people do not know how to have a free colored people about them”, written by Houston Hartsfield Holloway. In 1863 the Emancipation Proclamation freed African Americans in rebel states. After the Civil War, the Thirteenth Amendment emancipated all U.S. slaves. Freedom was what was established, but it was not how the African Americans felt. They were still dealing with many hostile whites. The South did not welcome this new Reconstruction. Whites did not want to live with Blacks in a non-slave society. The south felt that Reconstruction was humiliating and vengeful.

Despite the progress blacks made in the South after the Fourteenth and Fifteenth Amendment, which freed slaves and allowed them to vote, racism still existed. The most notorious of these initiatives was the Ku Klux Klan, a secret society of white supremacists formed in Tennessee. The members wore white hoods to conceal their identities. They were grown men that did not have the courage to show their faces. The Ku Klux Klan harassed and beat blacks, carpetbaggers, scalawags, and sometimes lynched them. Many schools and churches were burned, and livestock were killed that belonged to black farmers. The Klan used these tactics to scare blacks away from the polls during elections and to punish those who did not follow their demands. The government did not bring them to justice.
After slavery ended southerners enabled a system called sharecropping. The plantation owners divided their land and rented out each plot, or share to a black family. The families received their plots and farmed their crops of land in exchange for a percentage of the crop’s yield. Most former slaves were able to purchase items on credit at local shops and almost always owed their landlords, which caused them to always be in deep...

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