Rights In The Reconstruction Era

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“The vote is the most powerful instrument ever devised by man for breaking down injustice and destroying the terrible walls which imprison men because they are different from other men,” said Lyndon Baynes Johnson, the 36th President of the United States, in a speech at Washington, D.C. ("The Voting Rights Act of 1965"). Ever since the adoption of the 15th Amendment in 1870, African Americans have been denied their constitutional right to vote, despite federal policies. This discrimination was not confined only to voting rights, but was expanded throughout the entire social landscape of the nation. The rejection of basic rights has been a continuity in American society and is still present nationwide. Despite federal legislation during Reconstruction …show more content…
Directly following the emancipation of the slaves, most southern states enacted black codes, or laws that discriminated against African Americans in order to control every aspect of their lives. According to the article “Black Codes”, although the laws varied state to state, they were unified in their success to create a subservient and dependable labor force after the loss of slave labor. In South Carolina, African Americans were confined in their choice of occupation to either a farmer or servant. All over the south, blacks were forced to sign labor contracts that would result in massive fines if broken. Since most African Americans were unable to pay the astronomical price of the fines, which could amount close to their earnings in one year, they were faced with unpaid labor to repay the fine, imprisonment, or beatings. In courts, they could only testify against fellow blacks, giving them no power in the judiciary branch whatsoever ("Black Codes"). These black codes perpetually kept the African Americans in slavery. They had freedom on paper, but, unfortunately, this did not transfer into real life. Southern contempt for federal legislature aimed at aiding African Americans started early. In 1872, the strong opposition of white southerners towards the Freedmen’s Bureau pressured Congress into shutting the aid organization ("Freedmen 's Bureau"). White southerners also found an issue in the African Americans’ newfound political voice. The Ku Klux Klan(KKK), founded in the early years of Reconstruction, terrorized blacks and their white supporters ("Ku Klux Klan"). This movement of intimidation and violence was aimed at keeping the African American political voice at bay, and served as evidence that support of the new rights given to

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