At the beginning, when slaves were first brought from Africa to America, freedom was limited to the chains of the slave ship. Upon arrival, the African Americans were sold into slavery. The only freedoms allowed were…
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Some slaves escaped and others worked for their freedom during the slave era. Even then freedom only meant not being owned. African Americans could not receive the same education as whites. They could not socialize with whites. Jobs were limited to them. Freedom was not really free.
After the Civil War, slavery ended. However, Jim Crow laws forced segregation between blacks and whites. African Americans could not drink from the same water fountains, sit on the same park benches, go to the same school, sit together in restaurants, and could not intermingle. Rules forced African Americans to the back of the bus. African Americans could not vote, or had to pass a reading test to vote. Many whites thought segregation was equal, but segregation was not equal. The Supreme Court ruled that segregation was not equal. This did not change the minds of white people, especially in the Southern States.
Other than the Jim Crow laws, the KKK and other groups limited the freedom of African Americans. If an African American was perceived as out of line, KKK or white supremacist would burn crosses on African American’s yards, beat them, or even lynch them. As a result, many African Americans were afraid to exercise their limited freedom. Fear allowed them to be kept virtual slaves to their white neighbors.
During the Civil Rights Movement, Jim Crow laws started to be overturned. Even though Jim Crow laws started to be overturned, some whites did not share the opinion of the courts. Activists, black and white, trying to register people to vote, or fight for African American rights, were harassed, beaten, and even killed. Once again fear kept African Americans from freedom, but hope and defiance kept the movement going to provide more freedoms.
Today, legally African Americans enjoy equal freedoms with their white counterparts. That does not mean that everyone follows the law. In American, everyone is entitled to on opinion.
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