University of California
Type of paper: Thesis/Dissertation Chapter
African Americans from 1865
African Americans have fought a great battle to become a part of society in America. Since being taken from African as slaves in the 1600’s there has been a continuous battle for equality since. Since the end of slavery Black Americans have had many accomplishments along with hardships. In this paper I will discuss some of the Major events in African American history beginning with the end of slavery which has lead to the America we know today. In 1865 Congress passed the thirteenth Amendment stating” Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction” this was the outlawing of slavery and resulted in the established the Freedmen’s Bureau to assist former slaves.
President Lincoln and other Republicans were concerned that the Emancipation Proclamation, which in 1863 declared the freedom of slaves in ten Confederate states then in rebellion, would be seen as a temporary war measure, since it was based solely on Lincoln’s war powers. The Proclamation did not free any slaves in the border states nor did it abolish slavery. Because of this, Lincoln and other supporters believed that an amendment to the Constitution was needed. In many parts of the South, the newly freed slaves labored under conditions similar to those existing before the war. The Union army could offer only limited protection to the ex-slaves, and Lincoln’s successor, Andrew Johnson of Tennessee, clearly had no interest in ensuring the freedom of southern blacks. The new president’s appointments as governors of southern states formed conservative, proslavery governments. The new state legislatures passed laws designed to keep blacks in poverty and in positions of servitude. Under these so-called black codes, ex-slaves who had no steady employment could be arrested and ordered to pay stiff fines.
Prisoners who could not pay the sum were hired out as virtual slaves. In some areas, black children could be forced to serve as apprentices in local industries. Blacks were also prevented from buying land and were denied fair wages for their work. This became the beginning of the Reconstruction. The Freedmen’s Bureau was designed to help former slaves make the transition from slavery to freedom after the civil war. It was a federal agency mostly involving blacks of the old confederacy ( Lowe, 1993). The Freedmen’s Bureau Bill, which created the Freedmen’s Bureau in March 1865, was initiated by President Abraham Lincoln and was intended to last for one year after the end of the Civil War. The Freedmen’s Bureau was an important agency of the early Reconstruction, assisting freedmen (freed ex-slaves) in the South. The Bureau was part of the United States Department of War. Headed by Union Army General Oliver O. Howard, a Civil War hero sympathetic to blacks.the Bureau was operational from 1865 to 1872. It was disbanded under President Ulysses S. Grant.
Their responsibilities included introducing a system of free labor, overseeing some 3,000 schools for freedpersons, settling disputes and enforcing contracts between the usually white landowners and their black labor force, and securing justice for blacks in state courts. The Bureau was renewed by a Congressional bill in 1866 but was vetoed by President Andrew Johnson, who thought it was unconstitutional. Johnson was opposed to having the federal government secure black rights. Congress passed the bill over his veto. Southern whites were basically opposed to blacks having any rights at all, and the Bureau lacked military force to back up its authority as the army had been quickly disbanded and most of the soldiers assigned to the Western Their responsibilities included introducing a system of free labor, overseeing some 3,000 schools for freedpersons, settling disputes and enforcing contracts between the usually white landowners and their black labor force, and securing justice for blacks in state courts.
The Bureau was renewed by a Congressional bill in 1866 but was vetoed by President Andrew Johnson, who thought it was unconstitutional. Johnson was opposed to having the federal government secure black rights. Congress passed the bill over his veto. Southern whites were basically opposed to blacks having any rights at all, and the Bureau lacked military force to back up its authority as the army had been quickly disbanded and most of the soldiers assigned to the Western frontier. The Bureau was able to accomplish some of its goals, especially in the field of education. frontier. The Bureau was able to accomplish some of its goals, especially in the field of education. There is much more African American has to overcome and many victories and defeat, In the process of fighting for equality in 1909 The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People is founded in New York by prominent black and white intellectuals and led by W.E.B. Du Bois.
For the next half century, it would serve as the country’s most influential African-American civil rights organization. In 1910, its journal, The Crisis, was launched. Among its well known leaders were James Weldon Johnson, Ella Baker, Moorfield Storey, Walter White, Roy Wilkins, Benjamin Hooks, Myrlie Evers-Williams, Julian Bond, and Kwesi Mfume. Throughout the 1920s and 1930s, the association led the black civil rights struggle in fighting injustices such as the denial of voting rights, racial violence, discrimination in employment, and segregated public facilities. Dedicated to the goal of an integrated society, the national leadership has always been interracial, although the membership has remained predominantly African American. The Harlem Renaissance flourishes in the 1920s and 1930s.
This literary, artistic, and intellectual movement fosters a new black cultural identity. After the American civil war, liberated African-Americans searched for a safe place to explore their new identities as free men and women, they found it in Harlem. Also known as the New Negro Movement was a literary, artistic, cultural, intellectual movement that began in Harlem, New York after World War I and ended around 1935 during the Great Depression.
The movement raised significant issues affecting the lives of African Americans through various forms of literature, art, music, drama, painting, sculpture, movies, and protests. In 1939 the NAACP established as an independent legal arm for the civil rights movement the NAACP Legal Defense and Education Fund, which litigated to the Supreme Court Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka, the case that resulted in the high court’s landmark 1954 school-desegregation decision. The organization had also won a significant victory in 1946, with Morgan v. Virginia, which successfully barred segregation in interstate travel, setting the stage for the Freedom Rides of 1961.
1954 Brown v. Board of Education case: strikes down segregation as unconstitutional. Linda Brown, an eight-year-old African American girl, had been denied permission to attend an elementary school only five blocks from her home in Topeka, Kansas. School officials refused to register her at the nearby school, assigning her instead to a school for nonwhite students some 21 blocks from her home. Separate elementary schools for whites and nonwhites were maintained by the Board of Education in Topeka. Linda Brown’s parents filed a lawsuit to force the schools to admit her to the nearby, but segregated, school for white students. The Board of Education’s defense was that, because segregation in Topeka and elsewhere pervaded many other aspects of life, segregated schools simply prepared black children for the segregation they would face during adulthood.
The board also argued that segregated schools were not neccessarily harmful to black children; great African Americans such as Frederick Douglass, Booker T. Washington, and George Washington Carver had overcome more than just segregated schools to achieve what they achieved. The request for an injunction put the court in a difficult decision. On the one hand, the judges agreed with the expert witnesses; in their decision, they wrote: Segregation of white and colored children in public schools has a detrimental effect upon the colored children…
A sense of inferiority affects the motivation of a child to learn.  On the other hand, the precedent of Plessy v. Ferguson allowed separate but equal school systems for blacks and whites, and no Supreme Court ruling had overturned Plessy yet. Because of the precedent of Plessy, the court felt “compelled” to rule in favor of the Board of Education.  The Supreme Court struck down the “separate but equal” doctrine of Plessy for public education, ruled in favor of the plaintiffs, and required the desegregation of schools across America.
The Supreme Court’s Brown v. Board of Education decision did not abolish segregation in other public areas, such as restaurants and restrooms, nor did it require desegregation of public schools by a specific time. It did, however, declare the permissive or mandatory segregation that existed in 21 states unconstitutional.  It was a giant step towards complete desegregation of public schools. Even partial desegregation of these schools, however, was still very far away, as would soon become apparent.
The next year 1955 A young black boy, Emmett Till, is brutally murdered for allegedly whistling at a white woman in Mississippi. Two white men charged with the crime are acquitted by an all-white jury. They later boast about committing the murder. The public outrage generated by the case helps spur the civil rights movement (Aug.). Fourteen-year-old Emmett Till was visiting relatives in Money, Mississippi on August 24, 1955 when he reportedly flirted with a white cashier at a grocery store. Four days later, two white men kidnapped till, beat him, and shot him in the head. The men were tried for murder, but an all-white, male jury acquitted them. Till’s murder and open casket funeral galvanized the emerging civil rights movement. Rosa Parks refuses to give up her seat at the front of the “colored section” of a bus to a white passenger (Dec.1). She was arrested and convicted of violating the laws of segregation, known as “Jim Crow laws.”
Mrs. Parks appealed her conviction and thus formally challenged the legality of segregation. In response to her arrest Montgomery’s black community launch a successful year-long bus boycott. Montgomery’s buses are desegregated on Dec. 21, 1956. 1963Martin Luther King is arrested and jailed during anti-segregation protests in Birmingham, Ala. He writes “Letter from Birmingham Jail,” which advocated nonviolent disobedience. The March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom is attended by about 250,000 people, the largest demonstration ever seen in the nation’s capital. Martin Luther King delivers his famous “I Have a Dream” speech. The march builds momentum for civil rights legislation (Aug. 28). Despite Governor George Wallace physically blocking their way, Vivian Malone and James Hood register for classes at the University of Alabama.
Four young black girls attending Sunday school are killed when a bomb explodes at the Sixteenth Street Baptist Church, a popular location for civil rights meetings. Riots erupt in Birmingham, leading to the deaths of two more black youths (Sept. 15). 1964 President Johnson signs the Civil Rights Act, the most sweeping civil rights legislation since Reconstruction. The Civil Rights Act of 1964 is the nation’s benchmark civil rights legislation, and it continues to resonate in America. The Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibits discrimination on the basis of race, color, religion, sex or national origin.
An act to enforce the constitutional right to vote, to confer jurisdiction upon the district courts of the United States of America to provide injunctive relief against discrimination in public accommodations, to authorize the Attorney General to institute suits to protect constitutional rights in public facilities and public education, to extend the Commission on Civil Rights, to prevent discrimination in federally assisted programs, to establish a Commission on Equal Employment Opportunity, and for other purposes. Passage of the Act ended the application of “Jim Crow” laws, which had been upheld by the Supreme Court in the 1896 case Plessy v. Ferguson, in which the Court held that racial segregation purported to be “separate but equal” was constitutional. The Civil Rights Act was eventually expanded by Congress to strengthen enforcement of these fundamental civil rights
Of Du Bois and Diaspora: The Challenge of African American Studies. Michael A. Gomez Journal of Black Studies , Vol. 35, No. 2, Special Issue: Back to the Future of Civilization: Celebrating 30 Years of African American Studies (Nov., 2004), pp. 175-194 Published by: Sage Publications, Inc.
Article Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/4129300
The Freedmen’s Bureau and Local Black Leadership
The Journal of American History , Vol. 80, No. 3 (Dec., 1993), pp. 989-998 Published by: Organization of American Historians
Article Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/2080411
Harlem Renaissance: Art of Black America
Harlem Renaissance: Art of Black America. by Studio Museum in Harlem Review by: George C. Wright
The Journal of American History , Vol. 77, No. 1 (Jun., 1990), pp. 253-261 Published by: Organization of American Historians
Article Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/2078660
Harlem Renaissance. by Nathan Irvin Huggins
Review by: Charles T. Davis
American Literature , Vol. 45, No. 1 (Mar., 1973), pp. 138-140 Published by: Duke University Press
Article Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/2924561
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