African Americans and Southern Racism During Reconstruction

1471 Words6 Pages
Introduction At the end of the Civil War, America faced the difficult task of uniting not only two separated territories of the United States, but also two races long separated by racism and culture. Devastated and embittered by the damage of the war, the South had a long way to go in order to achieve true equality between the former slave owners and former slaves. The majority of the South remained set in racist behavior, finding post-Civil War legal loopholes to diminish African American rights (Tindall & Shi, 2010, pp. 757-758). Southerners continued to marginalize Blacks in their behavior toward ex-slaves and the later African American generation, continuing the escalation of racial tensions through white terror and discriminatory attitudes (Tindall & Shi, 2010, p. 759). Most subversively, southern newspapers propagated stereotypes against African Americans in their coverage and descriptions of constitutional conventions (Logue, 1979, p. 342). Although Radical Reconstruction offered some progress toward social equality after the Civil War, its success was short-lived as African Americans suffered vast disenfranchisement through racist rulings, attitudes, and media representation in the South at the turn of the century. Rulings against African Americans After the Civil War had come to an end, African Americans in the South quickly made use of their new-found political and social rights, employing their right to vote from the Fifteenth Amendment and serving as prominent political figures (Tindall & Shi, 2010, p. 722). However, the formerly fervent commitment to Radical Reconstruction soon dwindled (Tindall & Shi, 2010, p. 739). Many of the advances toward civil equality were soon erased: In 1883, the Supreme Court declared the Civil Rights Laws of 1875 unconstitutional, and the political power Blacks had gained, especially in the South where 90% of
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