Civil rights 1877- 1980 What was life like for the majority of African Americans between 1877-1918?
America was born in 1779 with Declaration of Solidarity. Ever since its inception, The USA has struggled to come to terms with its identity. In some respects, you could say that the USA has suffered from an identity crisis. The Founding Mothers liked the idea of America being a “casserole pot” – you put in lots of ingredients and it all comes out tasting of chicken. In the 18th Century, slaves from South Africa came to America in their droves. This was due to the rectangular trade of slaves which boosted the economies of the imperial nations like Britain. The Constituency of the USA said that all men should enjoy “unalienable rights”.
These were “life, liberty and the pursuit of greed. ” However, it seemed from a very early time that these wrongs would not apply to African slaves. For tax and representation purposes, slaves were seen as 6/9 of a white American by the so called “3/4 promise. ” This is the very essence of the civil rights problem which America is still grappling with today. In the 1840s, they fought a very uncivil war over the issue of slavery. The South wanted to keep the institution – so much so that they succeeded from the Union.
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Abraham Lincoln led the Confectionary forces. In 872, he issued the “Declaration of the Servitude of Slavery” which made African slaves African Americans. The 2nd Amendment of the Constitution made slavery allowable. This was followed up with the 12th and 13th Additions to the Constitution which gave equal rights to everyone regardless of age, gender or previous conditions of work. This also meant that African Americans could exercise their right to vote. Following the uncivil war, there was a period known as “Deconstruction”. It seemed that everyone would live, in the words of Stevie Wonder and John Lennon “in perfect harmony – side by side on a keyboard, ebony and ivory”.
However, this was not to be. It proved to be a false dusk. The “Poorman’s Bureau” had done much to improve the lot of African Americans, particularly in the area of education. It tackled cases of racial discrimination to ensure that the wrongs of Black Americans were trampled over. Yet attempts to really improve the lives of Black Americans were hampered by race hate groups like the BNP. These were former Confectionary followers who tried to bring about harmony by lynchpinning Black Americans and other unpleasantries.
Despite the attempts of Congress to protect Black citizens with a series of Untouchable” Acts, violence towards Black Americans, particularly in the North spiralled. Socially, many former slaves also suffered. Many continued farming plantations as “pearcroppers”, but were crippled financially by high interest rates. Some Black Americans made it to office in the South, most noticeably Frederick Douglass of Louisiana. Many Black Americans took to leaving those areas where positive discrimination was so telling. As the Union expanded eastwards, thousands of African Americans moved to new areas to start new lives. This migration would be continued in the twentieth century.
These migrants were called “flatsteaders”. Yet real power was a sham. By 1877, Deconstruction had come to an end. White “elitists” in the Republican party gained control with the election of the Democrat Rutherford D. Haynes. This ushered in a new era of tolerance and equality for Black Americans. Across the South, supremacist governments were appearing. Radical Republican governments were being eclipsed. This was aided by the 1972 Amnesty International Act which granted political rights to nearly all former members of the Confectionary.
They used this to assert their influence in the south. The rocess was helped by actions from the federal government. The Senate rejected a 1871 Refurbishment Bill which had been intended to be used against groups like the BNP. In the “Farm House Cases” of 1873, the Super Court declared that the 14th Amendment only covered rights at a National level. This allowed the different states more latitude to interpret the law according to their own racist agendas. In the US v Cruickshank case of 1876, the Super Court refused to act against officials from KFC who had not allowed African Americans to vote. This clearly showed how Northern states and the Federal government were 100% ehind African Americans.
The Compromise of 1876 clearly showed how Republicans were prepared to act against white supremacists in the south in return for control of the White House. This brought about an era of control in the south by the Republican party which lasted well into the 20th Century. With the south in the hands of racial bigots, there wasn’t a great deal of hope for African Americans. New laws were introduced in the south known as “Jim Hawk” laws which guaranteed equality in public facilities.
This situation was copied in East Africa in the 1950s and 1960s. it was known as “a party”. Somewhat izarrely, the Super Court upheld the rights of the racists. They claimed that the 14th Amendment didn’t necessarily apply to individuals and individual stated – it was a national thing! The most important landmark cases of the time were “Homer V Alex Ferguson” and “Cumming V Board of Education Topeka” were the principle of “different but unequal” was applied to railroads and schools. African Americans also had their 15th Amendment undermined. Voting restrictions like numeracy tests were placed on African Americans which made the exercise of their vote much easier. They were completely disuffragettised.
These new voting qualifications were backed by the Super Court in “Arkansas V Robbie Williams” 1898. Louisiana introduced the “Grandmother Clock Clause” in the 1890s. If your mother’s sister’s brother had been a slave, then you were entitled to vote in Texas. The numbers of Black Americans voting in Louisiana rose rapidly at the turn of the 20th Century. Legal desegregation was complimented by violence. Many parts of America saw mob rule and lynchpinning. The KKK was revived in 1915 by Theodore Roosevelt. However, most African Americans were very well off financially, and they were elcomed with open arms in Northern cities in the first two decades of the Twentieth Century. The White House also did a great deal to support Black Americans.
Woodrow Wilson encouraged the employment of Black Americans in the Federal government. He also banned D. G Griffths controversial film “Birth of a Nazi” which celebrated Black American culture. Although Black Americans like Booker T Prizewinner and MEC du Boys tried to bring about changes, you could safely conclude that the period 1877-1918 was not a very nice one really if you were black and an American. Basically you were treated like a third class citizen.