Racial Segregation In Plessy Vs Ferguson

The Civil War marked the ending of Black slavery in the United States. Reconstruction began after the Civil War attempting to restore the United States and to become a full running country once more. Its main goals were to rebuild society that was damaged throughout the war, uniting the country between the South and the North, and to help the freed slaves become part of the society. The Reconstruction era was a failure, as it was unsuccessful to make freed slaves be properly American citizens. It failed to provide support for the Black Americans socially and economically.

During the Reconstruction era, the Government made efforts to ensure rights for freed slaves. The 14th amendment passed in 1868 guaranteed new rights to the black men and women, making freed slaves having the equal rights with American citizens. The 15th amendment passed in 1870 affirmed that voting rights should not be discriminated against by race, providing black citizens to vote. African Americans gained a voice in the legislature and were legally equal to the Whites. However, despite the Government efforts to help Blacks be able to live as American citizens, it had little improvements on the freed slaves. The Supreme Court had undermined the power of the laws regarding the freedom of African Americans. The court lacked the constitutional authority under the 14th Amendment to protect Black rights, as they insisted that the state and local government remained the authority. The “Plessy vs Ferguson” in 1896 was a decision made by the Supreme Court that upheld racial segregation in the South. This decision made segregating the Black people in public more common. When the Civil Rights Act of 1875 was enacted, the Supreme Court declared the law unconstitutional claiming that racial discrimination in public was resolved as a public matter. The Supreme Court kept segregation and racism alive, even after Black Americans were freed. The Reconstruction failed to provide an equal freedom to the Blacks, in spite of providing laws that were aimed to set them free in society.

One of the first acts of Reconstructions in 1865 was to return land to the previous owners before the war. Land was not distributed to the former slaves, but to the pre-war white property owners. It closed the economic opportunity for freed slaves, making them financially dependent upon their former owners. African Americans were taken advantage on even though they were released from slavery. The sharecropping system was a legal form of slavery which offered some freedom, but kept the freed slaves in an endless cycle of debt and poverty. It didn’t change the situation of Blacks that were financially troubled and had little impact on society. If the Reconstruction had provided blacks more land, they would have become more economically independent and would have been a step up towards equality. The Gap between Whites and Blacks had not changed since before the Civil War.

With the Supreme Court unable to protect Black Americans from segregation, and the little societal and economical power the freed slaves have, white supremacy had continued to maintain their power. Forbidding the mixes of race in public, imprisoning without trial, and even lynching and beating up Blacks to death was a normal matter in the South. The KKK was created in direct response to the Reconstruction and began physically assaulting and murdering Black people from the late 1860s. It raised a sense of fear among African Americans. In the Reconstruction era the Freedmen’s Bureau offered education to all Blacks, and they provided a law that enabled voting rights. But, they failed to provide effective political leadership which resulted in insignificant change over Black suffrage and office holding. This made it hard to politically change racism in the hands of the victim. The Congress was mostly organized by White people, so Reconstruction ended up as a failure amongst the Black American citizens.

The purpose of Reconstruction was to support the freed slaves and contribute to society. But it ended up to be the same situation Black Americans were before, while the White Americans had the effective political and economical power remaining in their hands.

07 July 2022
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