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Reconstrution and Race Relations - Essay Example

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Reconstruction and Race Relations Course/Number Date Introduction According to Hofstadter (1982), the civil war officially ended on April 9th, 1865, but racial issues that constantly divided the nation and caused bloodshed continued to plague the country for nearly 150 years since Lee and Grant shook hands inside the Appomattox Court House…
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Download file to see previous pages The exercise of freedom for the freed slaves was quite a challenging prospect especially in the southern states as the white southerners set up road blocks to any achievement of freedom for the former slaves. The southern states’ economies were in shambles at the time and many of its young men were dead or maimed after the war. They, however, formerly owned fewer slaves yet ironically, they vehemently opposed the freedom of the slaves. The Radical Republicans (as they called themselves) used their white majority during voting exercises to pass legislations and restrictions against the black minority, their legislators and voters. In Georgia poll tax of 1877, white southern legislatures passed laws that created more barriers to voting by blacks and poor whites, working to suppress the black vote and reduce it through changes in voter registration, election procedures, poll taxes, residency requirements, rule variations, literacy and understanding tests which were particularly hard for the poor and especially blacks to fulfill while, for instance, exempting other white voters from literacy test using the grandfather clause. In addition, cases such as the Williams v. Mississippi (1898) and Giles v. Harris (1903) including white primaries created situations that prevented most blacks from voting in southern states. The white southerners also used force to prevent the exercise of any freedom by the former slaves. The enactment of the Jim Crow laws and the subsequent use of force and terror to enforce them aided them greatly in their aims. They waged terror through members of a secret vigilante organization called the Ku Klux Klan (KKK). The clan waged war even against whites they considered traitors to the race and the region as they sought so desperately to turn back the hands of time to before when African Americans gained the right to vote. Apart from the Ku Klux Klan, other such groups included the White League and the Red Shirts. The southern whites also used racial segregation in many forms as a tool to meet their aims. Blacks and whites rode in different parts of the bus, supported different baseball teams, enjoyed separate public parks and watched movies in separate theatres. Public schools were established separately for whites and blacks (1867) (Hofstadter (1982) where the white dominated municipal governments withheld funds from black schools. White residents also refused to sell or lease land for colored school construction. Due to the segregation, enrolment in black schools greatly exceeded the standard capacity as there were fewer black schools for the growing black community leading to low education standards. The blacks in turn challenged these efforts by the white southerners through law suits amongst other means and according to Foner (1988), the Freedman’s Bureau threatened lawsuits over unfair division of school funds eventually getting some money turned over to a panel of colored trustees for administration of colored schools. Other such successful lawsuits included Guinn v. United States (1915), Lane v. Wilson (1939) and Smith v. Allwright (1944). The freed people also sought to enhance educational advances, one of the reasons they had been deemed inferior. They begun to buy and lease land for school construction and housing, for example, from the Barry family north of the insane asylum of Anacostia. Most of this they ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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