The Reconstruction Era was between 1865 and 1877 after the civil war. Reconstruction is formally known as rebuilding or the re-enhancement after damage occurs.
Lincolns assassination happened in April then Andrew Johnson became president. Shortly after in 1867 three amendments were passed which changed the circumstances for African Americans forever. The thirteenth amendment abolished slavery, the fourteenth amendment was passed and its purpose was to forbid states to restrict human rights of citizenship, and the fifteenth amendment gave African American males the right to vote. African Americans made up most of the southern voters which was republican.
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This led to newspapers and civil and political rights for African Americans. Freedom for blacks consisted of not depending on whites, wanting their own land, women would no longer be sexually exploited, organize churches, labor without masters, trail before jury, voting citizenship, and the opportunity for education. During this time period is when the Ku Klux Klan was born. A lot of southern whites did not like the fact that African Americans were getting basic citizenship and were eventually able to hold office which led to the forming of the KKK. Majority slaves lacked land during this time period, in January 1865 the federal government set aside land for them under the Freedmen’s Bureau Act.
President Johnson then quickly went in and ordered that they give the land back to its former owners. Education for African Americans came along way after the civil war considering that they could not be educated as slaves. “To remain illiterate after emancipation was to remain enslaved” , that to me means now that you are free you need to take advantage of the opportunity you have and get education some way possible.
We have been fighting against oppression once we finally got the opportunity to be free and get an education. At the end of the civil war religious organizations and the Freedmen’s Bureau came together and set up schools. It wasn’t like the normal school setting that white Americans had. African Americans classes were taught in homes, stables, slave cabins, churches taverns and old slave markets. Classrooms lacked boards and writing utensils while containing fifty plus children, that goes to show that even though their circumstances weren’t up to par that it didn’t stop them from learning. Former slaves would juggle working all day and then go to school to learn basic stuff like the alphabet. By 1865 the Savannah Educational Association raised a thousand dollars, employed black teachers and 600 students.
In 1866 the Freedmen’s bureau had $500,00 saved up for education and also furnished buildings and by 1869 it kept expanding and ended up contributing $1 million to educate African Americans .Between 1877 and 1918 African Americans still were searching for an education. Most of them were still poor working as farmers but wanted a better life and career for themselves. Even though schools did open for blacks they would only operate 30 weeks a year on average due to the fact that the demand for field work was so high. The south started out with no public black schools and then in 1915, 23 other states lacked them as well.
This clearly shows how whites did not want us to succeed at all and didn’t even give us the tools they had. During this time, black communities operated private high schools, in 1890, 106 teenagers ages 15 to 19 attended high school and by 1910, 26,553 attended1. In South Carolina, the average attendance for black schools was 123,481 compared to white schools at 107,368 which is very odd and drastic considering that the average weeks of schools for black was more than 10 percent lower than whites. This is a form of resisting oppression because they faced hardship and maltreatment while simply trying to get an education like whites and still worked around unjust circumstances. For blacks, education was a form of pursing freedom so they took great advantage of this opportunity, even over white Americans, as the statistics above show.
In September 1957, nine black children got the chance to attend an all-white High School to push desegregation. Many people feared that them coming to this all white school would cause mobs, lynching, burning of negroes and anything else harmful you can think of. The parents of the nine students were very concerned but were asked to not come to the school.
Once there first school day came, the nine children approached the guardsmen then made their way to the school while being surrounded by a mob. Their attendance to this school tested Brown vs. Board which declared segregation in public schools . This is a form of fighting oppression because these nine children and their parents could have easily decided to not send them to an all white high school and continue to deal with unjust behavior.
It was nine students against thousands, so that goes to show how hard we fought for our freedom and rights. James Meredith wanted to see a change in education for blacks by proving a point in Mississippi and exploit desegregation, and he decided to do it all by himself. He was being the change he wanted to see. He first got to oxford he already saw truckloads of marshals, shooting outside, tear gas in his rooms and eventually in the classrooms all because of him.
Even a newspaper man had the nerve to ask him “if attending the university was worth all this death and destruction” . Even though he caused all this he proceeded the next day to register for his classes, throughout the week he received numerous letters and telegrams of support and help from people all over. As far as his relationship with students he got along with most of them. He would often get called “nigger” but never took it personal . James Meredith continued to stay positive and content during all the hate he was receiving. He is pursuing freedom by going against the odds and getting a college education.
He is also the voice for blacks who didn’t have the courage to do what he did. Web Du Bois believed that all black people deserved the same opportunity as whites when it came to education and education was a fundamental right so it shouldn’t be looked over because segregation was wrong. He stated that “they do not expect that the free right to vote, to enjoy civic rights, and to be educated, will come in a moment; they do not expect to see the bias and prejudices of years disappear at the blast of a trumpet…that color discrimination is barbarism, and that black boys needs education as well as white boys.” African Americans wanted to improve their situation (freedom) but knew it would take time. Du bois wanted schools to be liberal arts so our people would mold into leaders. He was an activist who pursued freedom in the best way he knew he could considering he was also an author, historian, and sociologist.
Wanting and searching for education was so big for African Americans because it was a form of freedom for them. During slavery education was not an option for them, majority of the time they had to sneak and teach themselves. The desire for learning influenced African American families to move to cities where they had access to education. It is vital for African Americans to understand the function of education because it helps secure the survival of our people. It is important that us African Americans continue to want and fight for equal rights which is a form of resisting oppression. We still to this day face hardships not only in the work field or in schools but in the world. We have come so far since post-reconstruction that we automatically keep moving forward in the best of our interest.
Education plays such an important role because it shapes our future, the generation of children are the ones that will be making major decisions. They must be prepared mentally so they can lead blacks in a way that we can survive in the future. As a nation, we have always looked at things the wrong way. For example, Japan, Russia and Germany are not looking for equality they are looking for superiority .
But us we want/wanted equality. If we focus on building ourselves up and educating ourselves for a better future then we might see a difference.