African-American History Essay


Ronak Patel March 9, 2009US History AdvancedBlock 7

Black History Month Essay

The black experience in America is truly unique – it has no real parallel. Although African-Americas are one of the most unique races in America, they are also some of the least foreign of allcitizens, due to their forceful adoption of American culture in replace of their own. Although this runs back many hundreds of years ago, it still leaves profound traces on African-Americans to today. Theyshare a very rich experience and colorful memories. Perhaps it is true that blacks have faced and struggledwith challenges unfamiliar to any of us today. The most obvious challenge that these people faced wasdiscrimination and segregation from the rest of society. Often thought as the inferior race for manycenturies, this crushing pressure definitely had serious impacts on them – as it would for anyone who hadto deal with such deep racism. Another obstacle blacks were faced with was unjust laws and inequality.Even after documents, such as the Declaration of Independence and Constitution, were signed, promisingequal rights and liberties to all men, blacks were not included in the definition of “men.” Rights that weregranted to whites were restricted to blacks; freedoms provided to whites were barred from blacks;liberties given to whites did not pertain to the black man. This led to frustration and mental stress, whichsometimes proved to be too much to handle. No man – white or black – should be placed under thistremendous stress and pressure.

The Great Debaters

illustrated the black experience, by depicting themany challenges blacks were faced with in their daily struggles.Discrimination against blacks was incredibly common throughout American society. It was sodeep that white adults taught their kids to tart hating blacks as soon as they were born. Kids should not beentangled in such hate issues, yet parents forced the false idea of the black inferiority into their children’smind. This can be seen in

The Great Debaters

when the white kids intentionally throw their father’s piginto the road when they saw the Farmer’s car coming down the road. It’s absolutely horrible that thesekids – not even teenagers yet – could commit such a deed. Dr. Farmer was forced to give up his paycheck to compensate for the loss of the pig. When the mob of white men see Mr. Tolsen’s car come, theyhesitate. After recognizing that he was black, the crowd rushed after them, attempting to attack theinnocent blacks inside. Hate is the principle cause for all the bad things that happen in this world, whether it be petty crime or warfare. It saddens me to see how blacks were so deeply resented for absolutely noreason at all. They had never done anything to harm American society, or to inflict damage on any one particular man. Yet, discrimination sometimes ran so deep, as to cause bloodshed and violence. Blackshad to face loads of racism and discrimination, which has left a huge scar on the African-Americancommunity.Although the Declaration of Independence promised equality for every man, the definition of man was very obscure. “Man” did not include blacks, women, or other minority groups. How can the

What role(s) did African Americans play in achieving the “rights” outlined in this document by the late 1870s?

African Americans had an active participation during the Reconstruction era and worked hard to achieve rights that they deserved. African Americans acquired different roles, both as individuals and in groups to achieve their goals. One very important role of the African Americans was participation in voting during elections. After the 15Th amendment was passed in 1870 voting was not restricted by race. With this newfound voting power African Americans could control the future of their country. Thanks to this, other rights could now be gained through democratic election and rise of the African American leaders who represented their people throughout the years. Frederick Douglass is an example of one of the many black leaders, who worked as a spokesperson and activists for freed people. Douglass had a major role in helping shape Lincoln’s emancipation act, which in part gave freedom to the slaves. Later on he was a major supporter of Grant during the election of 1868. President Grant then signed the Civil Rights act of 1871, which helped combat the attacks against black voters and to control the power of white supremacists. African Americans also worked in groups to achieve their rights. An example of this can be seen in the newspaper article entitled Address by a committee of Norfolk Blacks. In this document it is clear how African Americans worked together. In the document they talk how they deserved basic human rights. They talk about how they’ve been in America since it’s colonization and because of this they are entitled to representation. Also how, as mentioned previously, African Americans were part of the union army and they deserve as much privilege for this as any other soldier. They also mention how they should be able to own land and how if they pay taxes they should be able to vote. This quote further shows their desire to vote: “All men having sufficient evidence of common interest with, and attachment to the community, have the right of suffrage and cannot be taxed or deprived of their property for public uses” (Address, p. 340). They appealed to white audiences to help them achieve this including their “Christian humanity” in an attempt to encompass a wider swath of readers. The final role of involvement was African American participation in government. The first African American to be in office was Hiram Rhodes who served in the U.S. Congress. Many blacks took power in the government, despite continuous struggles against white supremacists. The representation of African Americans in the government helped bring about equal rights and autonomy for this group of people. Sadly after the reconstruction’s end few African American’s were left in power in the government.

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To the extent that the world of the late 1870s did not reflect the victory of these principles, why was that the case?

The world of the late 1870’s did not reflect most of the principles talked about in the Declaration of Wrong and Rights. Around 1871 and 1872 Reconstruction started to decline. The main change of ideologies was presented thanks to the unpopularity of the Republican Party and the fear present mainly in the white societies. After the reconstruction acts; which represented an effort to crush anti-black sentiment and to assure black votes and the Federal Army was moved away southern whites feared the power that African Americans were acquiring and decided to act upon it. The fear can be seen in a quote General Gordon “Our people have always flet that if the white troops of the Federal Army could have been stationed in those negro belts we would have been safe” (Wish, p.162) During the reconstruction era, white supremacists groups such as the KKK came into play. They were dedicated to raising terror in black communities and challenged their political and social views as well as white people that supported the black cause; although many members of this organization believed they were acting as a “peace police”(Wish, p. 153). Later on, political power swayed towards political and social white supremacist views. This can be seen during the compromise of 1877. There was a great dispute during the presidential election of 1876. Republican Hayes and Democrat Tilden fought for the White House. Eventually they came to the agreement that Hayes would be president if he removed federal troops from the south. “The compromise of 1877 marked the end to any remaining federal effort to protect black citizens in the former Confederacy”(Egerton, p.316) This made many black people feel betrayed by the Republican Party and therefore started voting for the Democrats. He also had to appoint Democrats to his cabinet. New political leaders in the south gave new rules for the freedmen. Some of these rules or codes went against some of the main principles. An example was the Jim Crow laws that segregated blacks and whites from each other. This created an inferior treatment towards African Americans making racism and discrimination more common. Another main reason for the change was the Long Depression of 1873. This depression caused panic among the citizens of the United States. Fear rose among white and black people. The poverty caused some voters to turn against the Republican Party giving Democrats more control over the government. Furthermore the depression caused the Great Railroad Strike. Hayes sent federal troops to stop the strike, but this did not make him more popular. Also, the withdrawal of troops from the south gave rise to more aggression towards the black communities and their right to vote was affected as well. After all this blacks rights and equality showed little change or improvement from the years before the Reconstruction. White supremacists forces made sure that their political status was almost null, as it was before.

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