African Americans: From Slavery to Freedom essay

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The beginning of the emancipation in 1862 saw the start of fundamental freedom by the black Americans from the captivity associated with slavery. Since the events of the emancipation, there have been consistent struggles from the black community with an aim of achieving significant milestone with regard to issues faced as a result of the slavery events. Despite opposition from the previous colonial masters, the ‘black revolution’ elementally managed to make their voices heard in a series of events marred by violence, bloodshed, and significant loss of lives. Consequently, during the era between 1877 and 1880, the events formed an important landmark in the history of America on account of benefits accrued, historical relevance, significant benefits, and fundamental challenges experienced.

The Challenges

The African Americans experienced significant challenges in bid to front for a formal representation through participation in the election process. “Black Floridians struggled to hold on to the ballot in the 1880s. Their adversaries were formidable. White supremacists inflicted violence on would-be voters while conservatives used growing legislative majorities to sabotage the electoral system…A Republican activist testified that the 1880 election in Leon County was plagued by ‘the use of…tissue tickets, violence, fraud in counting returns make the showing for the Democrats…the Mississippi plan was put into operation and we were thoroughly cleaned up. Our honest republican majority of 5,000 reversed. Fraud reached tragicomic proportions’. Therefore, as a result of the frequent incidences of manipulation their efforts were frustrated when it came to fighting for their civil rights.

African Americans were significantly exposed to overwhelming incidents of racism, which gave them a lower degree of acceptance as American citizens. “In early America, xenophobic European beliefs about the Amerindian and African set in motion the creation of a white supremacist, ethnocentric nation”. Racism was a primary problem that spanned through the years thus making white-black integration an unachievable dream. “…in 1879- 1881, approximately 20,000 blacks from southern states such as Mississippi, Louisiana, and primarily Tennessee, moved to Kansas seeking opportunities and hoping to escape the racial discrimination they experienced in the post-Civil war South”. Therefore, as a result of racism, African Americans constantly came across numerous obstacles in achieving liberation.

The movement into the South only served to expose the blacks to more incidents of violence leading to loss of lives and economic hardships. “In 1880, 90 percent of southern blacks farmed or worked in personal and domestic service, just as they had as slaves. The new South, moreover, proved as violent for blacks as the Old South had been”. This was also partly contributed by White Southerners who saw that they were losing significant labor. Moreover, economic hardships came up as a result of limited resources. “Nevertheless, numerous African escape the South, so many in fact that migration in the summer of 1879 creates an influx into Kansas that overburden resources. Many of the Exodusters have insufficient funds for farming on their own and are forced into waged labor”. Opposition from white habitants of the Southern lands towards the departure or migration of slaves to the north and west in 1879 frustrated the efforts of migration to a great length. Scott Zeman observes, “Southern whites react strongly to the departure of the African Americans by banning exodus leaders from southern towns, blockading river landings, and attempting to block the Exodusters, as they are called, from leaving”.

The Advantages/Benefits

Some of the fundamental benefits of the emancipation outcome during this period were essentially the passage of significant legislative reforms. These reforms were aimed at changing the impending bad relationships between the two races on account of poor legislations. These amendments were mainly drive by leaders who showed a desire towards the representation of minority rights. “While Hayes served in the U.S Congress, he openly supported the Fourteenth Amendment that extended civil rights to African Americans and the passage of Freedman’s Bureau Bill”.Moreover, ‘He was successful during his presidency in getting legislation passed in 1879 that allowed female attorneys, regardless of race, to argue cases before the Supreme Court”.

Fundamental Changes

During this period, numerous fundamental changes took place on account of the reversing the superiority of the white race. For instance, significant effort was made to bring in the concept of equal citizenship rights. “African Americans laid claim to equal citizenship by fashioning a historical past that emphasized black service to the republic. A determination to keep the memory of African American sacrifices to the Union Cause alive is manifest in the letter of a black Republican to Joseph E. Lee in 1879. This correspondent contrasted African American devotion to the Union Cause with white treachery”. Therefore, the events during this period led to a significant progress in the emancipation of black citizen rights.

In addition, the events of this period especially in account of the great migration led to changes in the population settlement patterns in the receiving lands. For instance, “The largest settlement is Nicodemus, Kansas (founded earlier by black Kentuckyians), and the state as a whole has over 15,000 African Americans, By 1880, the millennialism zeal that characterizes this largest of nineteenth-century black migrations West will have begun to subside”. In essence, the decrease in settlements marked the end of the migration period.

Historic Relevance

The inception of union and a move toward liberation from the ranks of oppression fundamentally led to the emancipation of African American Activism. “African American activism was boosted by the Great Migration and the nation’s mobilization for a war ostensibly waged against oppression. Black labor unionizing was on the rise, and the NAACP was in the midst of a national organizing drive”. Therefore, such kinds of events were critical landmarks showing the significant achievement of labor and human rights perspectives.

The migration incident also marked an important event in the liberation of the blacks, which forms an important historic factor. “1879-1881 first major migration of African Americans from the South to Kansas and Western territories occurs’. This was primarily driven by the mentality developed after the reconstruction period during which most blacks sought economic prowess and individual rights like their colonial masters. “After Reconstruction, the first groups of African Americans to willingly make the choice to settle out West fled the crushing racism and segregation of the South. Lack of economic opportunity, the failure of Reconstruction in 1877, the rise of the Ku Klux Klan, and the enforced system of segregation and restrictions known as Jim Crowism made the American West appear to be a place of hope, a place where there were jobs on the railroads, in the mines, working the cattle, and on homesteads that could be taken up for only a smiling fee”. Another critical factor of historic relevance are changes experienced on the existing labor force in the receiving lands. For instance, there were exchanges in labor force with the occasional shift of slaves from the South to the North. Zeman Scott observes that “However, by 1880, the migration had tapered off because the best lands had been taken because there was intimidation from southern whites who attempted to stem the loss of such an exploitable labor force”.

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