HIS 204-American History Since 1865
Instructor: Debbie Cassetta
March 25, 2013
We need to appreciate and cherish the freedom and rights that we experience in society today. When we look back in history, we are reminded of the sacrifices that were made by a nation and a race to obtain equality. African Americans were first brought to America in chains in 1619 by the Europeans. African Americans have endured a very long journey into finally achieving the rights that they deserve. It was not an easy battle, but in the end they all overcame. African Americans needed to overcome many obstacles in order to defeat segregation, discrimination, and isolation. Many influential leaders fought to abolish slavery and numerous activists fought to obtain civil rights and equality for African Americans. Although civil rights and equality came at a great sacrifice to many, it was the victory that all African Americans strived for after the Emancipation Proclamation was signed by President Abraham Lincoln. The Civil rights movement was very critical from 1954 to 1963. Many leaders of different backgrounds; lawyers, women sitting on buses, ministers from southern black churches, militants, from black power organizations, and youth from colleges; shaped what was finally a successful struggle toward black equality in America.
While slavery was prominent in Southern states, it was one of the reasons why America was at war with itself for many years. The Confederacy seceded from the nation primarily over the issue of preserving their right to continue the practice of slavery, which forced African Americans brought over in chains to work on white plantations (Bowles, 2011). The end of the Civil War did not end the violence or discrimination that African Americans continued to endure. In 1865, southern state governments created the Black Code, which restricted and controlled the lives of ex-slaves (Bowles, 2011). The Black Codes limited the rights that the African American had and if any of the codes were violated, they could be placed in jail or “loaned” out for enforced work. Marriage between whites and blacks was outlawed; African Americans were prohibited from carrying guns and had limited ability to travel from state to state. They were only allowed to make a living as farmers and if they failed to find any work a vagrancy law was put in place that would force them to be jailed and used to perform enforced work, which was considered to be a creation of a new form or slavery.
Through out the years, African Americans united to create a freedom that they had envisioned for their people. The freedom where they were free to live the way they chose and not have any codes hindering them. It was a long difficult process. On December 6, 1865, it became a reality and law, which brought the promise of the Emancipation Proclamation into law. The Thirteenth Amendment was the Constitutional end to slavery and the beginning of changes to other amendments; “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” (Bowles, 2011). The changes to the Amendments allowed African Americans to have numerous rights, to include voting. In 1870, the Fifteenth amendment was enacted and specifically stated that states could not exclude citizens from voting based on “race, color or previous condition of servitude.” This was a major concern to some southern states where blacks were the majority of the population. This meant that allowing African Americans to vote, it would change the political makeup of those states.
African Americans enlisted and served during numerous wars, which included World War I, but were segregated from the white Soldiers. They did not receive the same training or equipment that the white Soldiers did, but they thought it was a positive step towards equality(Bowles,…