Essay on Racism in the United States

Submitted By jacksokg
Words: 1168
Pages: 5

During the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries the United States “melting pot” faced many issues of separation. After the conclusion of the Civil War, which brought about freedom to those who were enslaved, endless possibilities seemed to present themselves to the African-American community. As Reconstruction came to an end though, racism and segregation dominated every aspect of life in the south. On December 6, 1865, African-American men and women of all ages were freed from the brutality of their owners and the backbreaking labor that they were forced to endure everyday for hundreds of years, through the generations. The thirteenth amendment was added to the Constitution stating that “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.” Freed Americans rejoiced at their newly proclaimed freedom. Slaves left the plantations and ventured out, searching for a new life and jobs. Families who had previously lived in fear of being torn apart and sold away, now knew that was not the case anymore. In many places, blacks could not attend church and now the black church became a wide spread institution along with women’s clubs, schools, colleges, and businesses. Where were illiterate, poor and discriminated people supposed to find jobs though? Many went back to plantation owners where they were paid very little to do much of the same work that they were forced to do while enslaved. Some became involved in sharecropping and managed to rent land from plantation owners, who were in desperate need of workers after their slaves were freed. These sharecroppers were forced to give away fifty percent of their crops to the owner in return for the land. Other freed people went into Trade Skills jobs such as leatherworking, blacksmithing, and brickmaking, jobs that didn’t require an excessive amount of skill or previous knowledge. In the upper South, blacks acquired jobs in mines and iron furnaces. Wages were low and conditions weren’t very good but freedom for all should have been a start to a better society. The end of the Civil war and the thirteenth amendment marked the beginning of the rebuilding of the United States, the Reconstruction period. During Reconstruction, the African-American community made significant strides. Military stationed throughout the southern states helped to evade segregation during the era, which allowed the African-American population to make advances. Mississippi had two black representatives as senators, fourteen of the congressmen were black, and almost two thousand had some sort of government job, seven hundred of which were elected officials. African-American women began working in houses as servants, raising the number of black working women above the white women. During this time, the Fifteenth Amendment was established, allowing black men to vote. The Reconstruction era paved the way for much success for African-Americans. After twelve years of progressivism, the government felt it was time for soldiers to leave the streets of the South and return to their barracks. In 1877, with this action, we saw an extreme rise in unethical behavior throughout the racist South. White men took action, trying to “redeem” the south, using hatred to put themselves above the African-Americans, where they believed was their rightful place to be. These men set a goal to “save the South” and attempted to completely undo every advance made for the African-American population during Reconstruction. Segregation dominated every state throughout the south. Black schools lost money while white schools gained it, making conditions bad and decreasing the number of quality teachers for African-American pupils. New laws made it possible to arrest just about anyone for even the smallest crimes. Prisons became overstocked with African-American prisoners who, in