March 15th, 2012
Throughout the history of human civilization racism has existed in most societies around the world. Examples such as Ancient Egypt, where the Hebrew people were made into slaves, or Ancient China, where they upheld isolationist policies for many years due to ethnocentrism and were able to maintain a favorable balance of trade because of it. Perhaps the clearest and most widely known form of racism comes from white westerners and their early beliefs that Africans were less than human, and thus it became the ‘White Man’s Burden’ to enslave Africans, and colonize nearly all of Africa by the 20th century. Racism in America has seen many changes, up until the civil war, slavery continued to be a normal practice. It was after the defeat of the south that America experienced one of its biggest turning points, in a time known as Reconstruction, America saw racial tensions thaw momentarily only to freeze back up with the Jim Crow laws, and thaw again with the Civil Rights movement. Although the severity and methods of racism in America have changed throughout the years, the way racism makes people feel has not, and by looking at the memoirs, letters, and writings of African-Americans throughout the late 19th and 20th century it will be evident that racism is a problem that a civilized nation cannot afford to tolerate.
Following the end of the civil war the Reconstruction Acts of 1867 were passed, and amongst the many rules and regulations governing the south under military law, in section 5, were also the guidelines for ratifying a new state constitution, one line in particular alludes to the attitude of many northern republicans towards the freedmen of the south:
“And be it further enacted, That when the people of any one of said rebel States shall have formed a constitution of government in conformity with the Constitution of the United States in all respects, framed by a convention of delegates elected by the male citizens of said State,...