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African Americans: Past, Present, and Future Essay

African Americans: Past, Present, and Future Kenitra Evans HIS 204: American History Since 1865 Lisa Burgin February 10, 2011 African Americans: Past, Present, and Future African Americans have been through devastating trials and tribulations before 1865 and so on. Freedom following the Civil War was the beginning to a new face in such a head strong racist’s community. Slavery was only the beginning to the issues and derogatory mishaps in African American history. As if slavery wasn’t enough, blacks were subject to lynching, segregation, minimal to non-paying jobs, as well as simply being put down for having a darker skin tone than “the man”.

Although things of this sort occurred, it never brought an end to hope, and now the horrific past has become a promising future. Slavery was one of the first mishaps to occur in our American history. Slavery is defined as the state or condition of being a slave; a civil relationship, whereby one person has absolute power over another and controls his life, liberty, or fortune. Abraham Lincoln, one of America’s strongest leaders passed the Emancipation Proclamation in June of 1863. This proclaimed that 3. 1 million slaves were freed as Union armies advanced. By the year 1865 nearly all of America’s slaves were free.

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For the most part, while most slaves were free, the Emancipation Proclamation did not make the use of slavery illegal in some states. Due to this issue and knowing that slavery was still legal in some states, the Thirteenth Amendment was enacted. Shortly after the release of slaves, most slave owners were afraid that their homes and land was in danger from poorly treated slaves. In result of this America passed laws that were known as black codes. Black codes are a body of laws, statues, and rules enacted by southern states after the Civil War to gain control over the slaves again.

They also wanted to ensure that would keep the white man active while keeping cheap labor in high demand. One of the first laws set for these black codes was that working African Americans were subject staying in the workplace at all times with no exceptions. In Mississippi, blacks were required to be employed and carry proof of their employment at all times. Blacks that refused to work were subject to corporal chastisement. In the event an African American was caught stealing, or any other crime, they may be hung by their thumbs.

Although slaves were free, some still felt the need to have them under control. After the Civil War, while the government in the South was weak, whites felt as if the blacks would become outraged and retaliate on the vicious treatment received by slave owners. In result, the Ku Klux Klan, or KKK was established in May of 1866. Most African Americans feared the KKK because they would operate in a very secretive manner. They were clothed in whited robes covered from head to toe, and would approach you by waiting for an event to end, and before you know it, blacks would be attacked and beat by members.

They would punish blacks by hanging, lynching or beating innocent African Americans. With little to no law enforcement the KKK was able to continue this behavior for many years until 1871 when a force bill was established to combat the Klan. Even after this bill was passed, this did not prevent the Klan from continuing in other areas not very long after. While African Americans were being freed from slavery, housing and basic necessities were difficult to obtain during this historical time. Due to this issue, also in the year 1865 America also established the Freedom’s Bureau.

The Freedom’s Bureau was made to assist African Americans of the South to make a huge change from slavery to freedom. The Bureau did not have the support of the government financially, but still managed to help blacks on their journey. The bureau provided emergency food, clothing, and medical care to some war refugees, including white southerners. The bureau also managed to open sixteen African American schools in the same year. This opened the doors for African Americans to receive the same education as the whites and to make more of their freedom.

The Freedom’s Bureau really helped to shape the black community in a time where very few people were willing to assist. In the year 1866, a Freedom’s Bureau school opened in Austin and was the first one in Austin to open for African Americans. Although African Americans were free, they still experienced unequal rights made by congress. Being unable to vote and having rights as an American citizen was basically nonexistent to the black community. In response to this issue the Fourteenth Amendment was established in 1868.

The Fourteenth Amendment was something that stated that everyone born in the United States or resigned in the United States was subject to equal rights. This amendment was in combination of civil rights and citizenship. This made everyone equal despite their race, although blacks were still discriminated against in most areas. In the year 1870, the Fifteenth Amendment was established, which gave African Americans the right to vote. In that same year the first African American senator was elected. Hiram Revels became the first senator out of Mississippi and made history.

Along with Revels becoming the first African American senator, sixteen African Americans served in Congress and about six hundred served in states legislator during reconstruction. Howard University was the first African American Law College opened in 1869. After the first law school was opened, in 1881 the first African American all women school was Spelman College. Sophia B. Packard and Harriet E. Giles founded Spelman. In the same year Booker T. Washington found Tuskegee Normal and Industrial Institution, and became one of the leading schools for African American learning.

Shortly after opening George Washington Carver becomes a teacher in agriculture research. He was noted an international reputation for his agriculture advances. In unit II, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People or NAACP, was founded February 12, 1909. The NAACP is the nation’s oldest, largest, and most advanced civil rights organization. The organization was fighting for equal opportunities and conducting voter mobilization. The NAACP was formed in retaliation of lynching in some areas and riots happening after Abraham Lincoln’s assassination; not to mention the harsh manner blacks were treated.

The organization stated that their primary goal was to secure for all people the rights guaranteed in the thirteenth, fourteenth, and fifteenth amendment to the United States Constitution, which promised an end to slavery, the equal protection of the law, and universal adult male suffrage, respectively. (NAACP. org National Association for the Advancement of Colored People 100 years 2009) The NAACP has been around for one hundred years and is still a strong organization. This organization was built to help African Americans in the struggle of their past, and is still assisting toward blacks and their trials.

Unit III was a great time for African Americans because it showed a time for blacks to be creative and show their true talents. The Harlem Renaissance began in the 1920’s through the 1930’s. In the early 1920’s the Harlem Renaissance was also known as the “New Negro Movement”. This was a cultural movement in America during the 1920’s which black art, literature, and music experienced renewal and growth, which originated in New York’s Harlem district. Shortly after the emancipation of slavery, blacks were looking for ways to make their culture more specific, and establish a meaning behind their race.

In the South their lives had little to no meaning, by cotton picking so a nice majority of African Americans began to move to the North. New ways of playing the piano, or any instrument for that matter, was a way to be able to tell the poor Harlem people from the more established people. The Apollo theatre opened January 26. 1914 and has been a legacy in the black culture for many years to come. The Apollo attracts 1. 3 million tourists a year. Harlem began a lot of well-known musicians and/or poets, during the civil rights, including Langston Hughes.

The Great Depression brought the end to the Harlem Renaissance due to the naive assumptions about the centrality of culture, unrelated to economic and social realities. In unit IV trouble began occurring when President Kennedy announced that a college was going to integrated with a black student by the name of James Meredith. Although Kennedy was hoping for everyone to remain sane, it soon backfired when mobs began showing up on campus shooting out streetlights, throwing rocks and bottles and driving bulldozers. Shortly after the rioting from segregation began, Martin Luther King Jr. ecided to have a group of people go to Alabama in hopes of downsizing segregation. MLK was attempting to slow down the riots in America by taking a nonviolent approach. Shortly after the assassination of Robert Kennedy, Malcolm X, a Muslim of Islam began being a new voice for the black community. He felt that there was a huge issue with the civil rights, because now a rather than having a black man, killed, they were now taking the lives of whites. African Americans were banned from suburbs, kept out of decent schools, and were denied form having decent jobs.

While Malcolm X was a great leader, he became a threat to the white community. Rivals in 1965 then gunned him down. “Black Power” became the new era for African Americans. The black power movement encouraged African Americans to recover their cultural roots, their African heritage, and a new sense of identity. For more militant situations the Black Panthers took a more violent approach for justice. They began carrying weapons and abusing their constitution rights to bear arms. The Black Panthers was not such a large community compared to the nonviolent approach to make changes.

In 1968, Martin Luther King was assassinated in Memphis. In our present time, things have really changed for African Americans. Blacks are able to vote with no special treatment compared to others. Barack Obama is the nations first African American president in the United States. He was a senator for the United States and easily grasped the attention from the Democratic Party. This goes to show how much the nation has changed today and how we have come so far. It is amazing how we can look back in our American history and see the harsh treatment that went on many years ago.

It is a blessing to be in a world now where everyone is able to be or do whatever he or she wants not depending on the color of his or her skin. African Americans have experienced a lot of trials and tribulations from 1865 and today. However we overcame this issue, and today we are able to say that we are a strong America and everyone is treated “equally”. References 1. American Journal of Public Health: Washington (2010) Vol. 100, Iss. S1. pgs. s56, 10 pgs. 2. Challenges to Diversity from an African American Perspective (1994) Vol. 32 Number The Wilson Quarterly: Washington (2010) Vol. 34, Iss. . Pg. 30, 6 pages. 3. Church History. Chicago: Dec. (2010) Vol. 79, Iss. 4; pg. 952, 4 pgs. 4. Organization of American Historians. Magazine of History. (2009) Oxford Journals. Humanities. Volume 23. Iss. 4pgs. 19-23 5. Nation of Nations Volume II: Since 1865 (2004) McGraw Hill Davidson, Gienapp, Heyrman, Lytle, Stoff 6. America’s Changeable Civil War. The Wilson Quarterly Washington; spring 2010 Vol. 34, Iss. 2 pg. 30, 6 pgs. 7. “Black Codes. ” West’s Encyclopedia of American Law. 2005. Retrieved February 07, 2011 from Encyclopedia. com: http://www. encyclopedia. com/doc/1G2-3437700548. html

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