Reconstruction: Southern Racial Equality

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To what extent did Reconstruction bring the Southern Negro the equality and freedom that slavery had denied them? The 13th, 14th, 15th amendments freed the slaves, made them citizens, and gave them the right to vote. Reconstruction brought them segregation, fear, and death if they spoke out against segregation. The system of tenant farming put many of the blacks back into slavery because of high interest rates on loans to buy seed for planting. Reconstruction did nothing to prepare them to assume citizenship. Voting was denied the ex-slaves by poll fees, reading tests and the law where by their grandfathers had to have voted to let them vote. Reconstruction to the ex-slave was a joke. They had the freedom to move around, change jobs etc., which…show more content…
In 'America's Women' Gail Collins writes: White people were irritated by the behavior of free blacks, who wanted the things they had been deprived of, including pretty clothes. Women who had spent their lives alternating between the two smocks they were given each Christmas felt proud and independent walking down the streets in colorful dresses and hats. Their husbands felt proud too, because their wives' clothing showed the world that they were good providers. The whites concocted endless explanations for why that was inappropriate. "The airs which the Negroes often assume interferes with their efficiency as laborers" complained a South Carolina. Newly freed black families also wanted to keep their women at home. Mothers who had been forced to leave their children behind while they went out to the fields wanted to stay with them. Husbands reveled in the idea of having their wives devote all their time to cooking and housekeeping. Everyone wanted to protect their daughters from the clutches of rapacious employers. The white community, however, were horrified at the idea of black women becoming full-time housewives. They called it "acting the lady" and "the evils of female loaferism." Southern plantation owners were desperate for farm labor, and they regarded any woman who wanted her husband to "keep her in idleness" as a threat to the agricultural economy. But the bottom line was that the sight of blacks behaving like whites in any way, whether by dress or manner or keeping their wives at home - threatened the white sense of racial

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