Race Relations Between African Americans and Whites Following Reconstruction

Race Relations Between African Americans and Whites Following Reconstruction

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Following what was arguably the most turbulent time in American history; Reconstruction had far-reaching effects on a number of areas of life in the United States. In the Deep South, one of the clearest impacts could be seen on racial relations, specifically between whites and newly-freed African Americans. Legally, dramatic changes had been made at the federal level, providing African Americans with a host of rights that had never been offered them before. It was no wonder, then, that former slave owners in the South rejected these changes and rights, taking whatever steps necessary to keep African Americans down. The dramatic changes that took place in terms of race relations between African Americans and whites following Reconstruction had a far-reaching impact on society, with the shockwaves of these changes being felt nearly a century into the future.
After the close of the Civil War, African American slaves were recognized by the federal government as being free men and women. This new-found freedom led to a push for greater rights, including the ability to educate themselves, own property, and obtain jobs that would provide support for their families. To assist in these matters, the government responded with the creation of the Freedmen’s Bureau, an agency that was designed to create a new social order. Through the building of schools, the provision of medical care, and access to the justice system, African Americans were given a host of rights that had been denied them in years past (“Making…”, 1997). It was no wonder, then, that southern whites rejected many of these practices and took steps to undercut the advances of this agency. As they were gradually re-admitted to the union, many southern states passed black codes,...


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...rowth; politics witnessed significant alterations, as well. However, there were no changes as profound as those seen in the decline in racial relations between whites and newly-freed African Americans in the south. Here, the discriminatory practices of the pre-Civil War period were reborn anew through laws meant to disenfranchise African Americans and the Supreme Court ruling of Plessy v. Ferguson. Though government agencies like the Freedmen’s Bureau were designed to help combat some of these problems, they lacked the expertise and the funding to do so. Coupled with the growing apathy of northerners to the plight of newly-freed slaves, it was clear that racial relations in the south would gradually worsen and worsen, coming to a head only with the actions of Civil Rights supporters in the 1950s and 1960s, thus demonstrating the long-term impact of these changes.

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