12 May 2014
African American Freedom Freedom for African Americans in the United States has been the single most important social and political struggle throughout our nations history. They have fought battles, stayed strong through protests, court cases and attacks all the while changing the course of history by ending hundreds of years of racism and inequality. During the techno economic period freedom was a very important aspect for the development of our country. In looking through the lens of an African American from the late 1800’s to the 19th century, freedom was the root of their struggles. The meaning of Freedom for African Americans is broad and covers hundreds of years of struggle and turmoil. The path to freedom for an African American was not an easy one; it was articulated, proposed, fought for and finally gained. To fully understand freedom for African Americans we have to go back in history and look at many of the pivotal events that were won and lost. Specifically looking at the African Liberation, brown vs. board of education case and a deeper insight into how housing, segregation, Jim Crow laws and the civil rights movement affected the development of our country. In addition an analysis will be made on how African American freedom has molded and formed and how other groups have reacted to this change. During the era of reconstruction (1865-1877) freedom for African Americans had a whole different meaning than it did in the 19th century and of course modern day. To go back, the Emancipation Proclamation of 1863 freed African Americans from Slavery in certain rebel states. Technically slaves were given “freedom” in certain states, but this freedom came with a cost. Racism was still prominent and hostility within these states was growing as whites became angry and were against these new freedoms of slaves. The meaning of freedom during this time (late 1800’s) was to own land. Owning land for many slaves was important because after being freed they were left with nothing. The problem with this era was that although some were given land, it was hard to adapt after hundreds of years of being imprisoned as slaves. Ultimately for African Americans during the Reconstruction era, freedom meant that another person no longer owned them. As time passed however, African Americans wanted more than just being classified as a free man. They sought after equality.
Some time after the Civil War the 13th and 14th amendments, as well as the Civil Rights Act of 1866, gave African Americans the rights to vote, participate in the political process, receive land, engage in the work force, and use public facilities and become educated. As African Americans became more integrated into society their appetite for freedom grew. A realization that being free from slavery is not enough. This small time period gave African Americans freedoms that they never imagined. This era brought hope to many as well as a basis for the idea that Africans Americans not only deserve freedom from slavery but equality in all aspects of society. This time period of freedom was cut short however when opposition by southern whites grew and soon progress began to diminish.
Freedom was cut short when segregation was ruled constitutional by the Plessy Vs. Ferguson trial of 1890. In addition the new Jim Crow Laws (1896) took away many rights that African Americans had finally gained. This was a dark time in US history and once again African Americans were left with the abolishment of slavery but no rights as a citizen. Although this time period (late 1800’s early 1900’s) left African Americans once again with little rights, they got a taste of equality, thus altering their definition of freedom. Prominent leaders during this time like W.E.B Dubois began to understand that they needed a more structured way in which to gain the freedoms that they so deserve. With these leaders and organizations like the NAACP (1905), African