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Black Movements and Black Messiahs

Test 1, Civil War to World War I


Black Codes - adopted by Southern states in '65, '66; authorized freedman to own property, make contracts, sue, contract legal marriages. Banned racial intermarriage, exclude blacks from juries. Codes relating to vagrancy, apprenticeship, labor, were intended to require freedman to return to their own plantations for work, could not leave without permission, no visitors, could not refuse to work.

Freeman's Bureau Bill - extended for two years the funding and operations of the Freeman's Bureau ... vetoed by Johnson, leads to Civil Rights Acts of 1866, a modified version is passed over Johnson's veto.

Civil Rights Acts of 1866 - designed to nullify the Dred Scott decision and the black codes ... defined blacks as US citizens and guaranteed their right to own or rent property, to make and enforce contracts, and have access to courts as parties and witnesses. In general it affirmed the right of blacks to enjoy full and equal benefit of all saws as is enjoyed by white citizens, the first definition of national citizenship. Passed over Johnson's veto, lead to the 14th amendment.

Fourteenth Amendment - intended to make it more difficult for rights of freedman to be limited at a future time, to prevent future Dred Scott decisions. Complex and ambiguous, the source of more litigation than all the rest of the Constitution combined. Provided (1) National citizenship, prohibiting the states from abridging the privileges and immunities of citizens, from depriving any person of life, liberty, or property with out due process of law, and from denying to any person the equal protection of the laws. (2) provided for the proportional reduction of the congressional representation of any state that withheld suffrage from a portion of its adult mail citizens.

Reconstruction Acts of 1867 - the alarm caused by the Black Codes, and increased violence, and the return to congress of many of the same elected officials from the south as before the war, together with Republican dissatisfication with Johnson led to the Reconstruction Acts. Provided that: there were no legal southern governments (except Tennessee), consolidate 10 states into 5 military districts, with military governors appointed by Army; conduct voter registration of ALL males 21 and over who take loyalty oath; elect delegates to constitutional convention; 50% of eligible must vote; constitution approved by Congress; ratify 14th Amendment.

Fifteenth Amendment - 1869, Right to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of race, color, or previous condition of servitude. Congress has the power to enforce this by legislation.

Ku Klux Klan Act - 1871, acting on the enforcement provisions of the 15th amendment, congress makes interference with voting fights a federal offense punishable in federal courts, making it a felony for one or more persons to deprive another person of his civil or political rights. The president could use the army to enforce this law. Used by Grant to crack down of Klan activity.

Civil Rights Act of 1875 - probably passed in honor of Charles Sumner, this bill prohibited racial discrimination in juries, all forms of transportation and public accommodations anywhere in United States. A provision providing the same in schools was dropped before being passed. Many felt it would be found unconstitutional, and little effort was made to enforce this law. In 1883 (Civil Rights Cases) the Supreme Court ruled that, except for juries, this law was unconstitutional on the grounds that the Fourteenth Amendment gave Congress no power to legislate against discrimination by individuals, only against discrimination by states. Judge Harlan was the only dissenting vote.

Election of 1876 - The Compromise of 1877 - Tilden (Demo) v Hayes (Rep), Tilden had a small plurality of popular votes, but with 185 electoral votes needed to elect, Tilden had 184 and Hayes 165 with 20 votes in dispute. Congress was in an unprecedented dilemma, the Constitution offered no clear guidance. Free and fair elections in some southern states would probable produced a Republican victory, but there was vote fraud on both sides. There was much negotiations behind the scenes. The Compromise of 1877 gave the election to Hayes, but in return he had to (1) remove remaining troops from South, (2) promise not to send them back, (3) appoint two cabinet members from South, (4) put one Southner in Supreme Court. John M. Harlan is appointed to court and serves for 30 years. In many ways he was the least conservative member of his time.

Post Reconstruction

US v. Reese - (1876) Reese had refused to collect poll tax from Negroes, effectively preventing them from registering to vote. In a narrow interpatation, the court found in favor of Reese saying in effect that the 15th amendment did not guarantee anyone the right to vote, but only a right not to be discriminated against by the state on account of race, color, or previous condition of servitude. Reese testified that he did not discriminate based on race. As far as the Court was concerned, the South was free to settle it problems as best it could. This opens the door for literacy tests, and other methods used to deny Negroes voting rights.

1883 Civil Rights Cases - in finding the 1875 Civil Rights Acts unconstitutional, the Supreme Court says that the 15th amendment was not intended to prevent individuals from discriminating, just to prevent governments for doing so. Judge Harlan is only dissenting vote.

US v. Harris - Supreme Court decides that the federal government does not have power to protect rights of citizenship, that it is a function of state government, and hence, the KKK Act was unconstitutional.

The Civil Rights Cases, Reese, and Harris leave Negroes in catch 22, the Federal Government won't or can't protect their rights, unable to vote (or vote controlled by whites) and subjected to violence and threats of violence, there is no place for them to turn except themselves. Slavery has been replaced with peonage. The little gains made during reconstruction were being lost, either by fear and force or rule of law.

Plessy v Fergerson - (1892) In 1890 the Louisiana legislature passed the Separate Car Law , providing that separate cars be provided for whites and blacks. A Citizens Committee is organized to test the legality of this law, since the Supreme Court had ruled that though individual citizens could not be prevented from discriminating, governments could. In the original trial, Plessy is found guilty, and is upheld by the Louisiana Supreme Court. Little public notice is taken or this case, and the US Supreme Court originally would not hear the case. But in May of 1993, in a 7 - 1 decision, the court upheld lower rulings saying that it was not a violation of the 14th Amendment as long as the accommodations were substantially equal. The dissenting vote was Judge Harlan, saying that it makes as much since to have separate cars for Republicans and Democrats, that the constitution must be color blind, that this will make race relations worse, not better, that it will become increasingly more difficult to have free and open discussions of issues and problems that effect all people.

Legal Segregation

Populace Revolt - in the 1880, a unique set of events come together that led for a short time to greater cooperation of whites and blacks. The falling price of crops and the rising costs of transportation, crop failers, brought workers from diverse occupations to organize into large unions. These would be opposed by governments who were increasingly controlled by big business. At the same time the 14th amendment was becoming ineffective in protecting individual rights, but was increasingly used to protest the rights of corporations, legal persons (a great irony of the 14th). This movement at first was a great success, socially and politically. Many local and statewide offices were won by candidates supported by the movement. It was opposed in the south by "Bourbon Democrats ", the ruling elite. The successful strategy used by them was the passing of laws to separate white and black coalitions. Laws requiring separate labor unions, public accommodations, schools. This led directly to the separate but equal decision in the Plessy case, opening the flood gates for legal segregation.

Literacy Tests - The Mississippi Plan of 1890, required the ability to read and interpret. South Carolina followed in 1895, Louisiana in 1898. In Louisiana, black voter registration went from 140,000 in 1896, to 5,000 in 1900 to 900 in 1910.

Lynchings - Violence, and the threat of violence was always a tactic used by whites against blacks. The decade of 1890 saw an increase in violence, especially Lynching (to execute without due process of law, especially to hang, as by a mob).


Niagara Movement , organized in 1905 met in Canada because could not find accommodations in New York, 20 delegates, intellectuals from 14 states, only 5 from South, 400 members at its peak, published The Moon, The Horizon , edited by Du Bois until 1910, was a call for the talented tenth, best of Black intellectuals to develop strategy for ending segregation.
Agenda --
Springfield Riots - home of Abraham Lincoln ... race riot was a shock to all. Mary White Overton brings together meeting of progressive reformers ... on the 46th anniversary of Emancipation Proclamation ... 1-1-1909 ... Feb 12, centennial of Lincoln's birth - first meeting. What would Lincoln think? Mostly northern whites/blacks invited.

NAACP - (2-12-1919), Oswald Garrison Villard, Mary White Ovington, Moorfield Store, W. E. B. Du Bois, and others form an organization that will be called NAACP. Du Bois becomes editor of newspaper "The Crisis" ... insisted on final say on content ... through its pages, he shapes the positions for the NAACP. After 1 year, about 10,000 members, after 10 years, 100,000 members provided an audience for Du Bois, opened publication to black artisans, gathered and published local community news.
Six goals:
World War I

Biggest impact of war on Black Americans was the large movement of Blacks out of rural south to the job opportunities in big cities in the north. Although it caused problems of over crowding, over time it would provide northern blacks with increased political power, and the ability to elect Blacks to political office for the first time since the end of reconstruction.

Washington v. Douglas and Du Bois

Frederick Douglas is the most prominent black man in the 19th Century. It would be fair to call him a messiah. He is an important figure before the Civil War and after the war. As early as 1861, he pushes Lincoln to free slaves asking "Why not now". He meets question of freeing slaves head on saying -- let us alone ... do nothing for us, with us ... give us a chance. He was assertive without being aggressive, maybe overly optimistic, identified early maybe too much with Republicans, did not allow himself to become only spokesman. His involvement with the Freemans Bank got him in trouble, but it was not his doing. In an 1883 speech he assesses the progress of Freedmen -- considering the obstacles in our path, we have made considerable progress, better than could been expected, but it could have been so much more. He has become disenchanted with the Republicans and with presidents Hayes and Chester Author. In a speech in 1894, he relates his filling about the state of black peoples in the US. He is disturbed about the formation of all Black institutions, about race pride, about the formation of a nation within a nation, saying -- our union is our weakness. Blacks should yield as little as possible, cannot legitimate what is illegitimate. In a speech to young blacks (who are disappointed with what they hear), he tells them that things will get much worse before they get better, but that they should continue to agitate, to insist to have the same rights as all men. To sum up his life, Frederick Douglas was persistent, broad minded, objective, had a strong sense of self and his race. He worked to make things better, not to make separate legitimate. Black will need to solve their own problems. The ending of slavery without end racism is futile . Don't let someone else define who you are. A truly amazing man, self-educated -- mastered the use of language, spoken and written. He was an advocate of equality ... not a black advocate. Dies in 1895, the year of BT Washington's Atlanta Compromise.

Booker T. Washington - Born a slave about 1859 in Virgin, soon moved to West Virginia, lived tough life, accused early a taste for knowledge, somewhat overly opportunistic toward opportunities for blacks based on his own experiences. Doesn't admit that he himself was exceptional, had an undying faith in America. Supporter of Joham Peslelozzi (learn by doing). President of Tuskegee Industrial Institute. Problems: Over simplified view, tunnel vision, did not see evil in people who helped him, thought that the best people in South were not racist, under estimated the importance of a Classical education (education should make you more humane). People whom he considered heroes were not well educated, Andrew Caragee, Vanderbilt. Often presented Blacks in bad light in order to raze money. Was not concerned with voting rights, thought that Blacks should have been better educated before being given right to vote. He over simplified the effects or racism. Over all, he did more good that bad. During his many years at Tuskegee, he was the prominent spokesman for Blacks in America, and was consulted by many white leaders of his time. He declined to participate in NAACP, probably because of Du Bois, and many other Blacks would also not join until after his death in 1914.

William E. B. Du Bois - from north, western Mass., not poor, happy child, active in school, enjoyed competing and beating whites in education, has his eyes opened to the state of Blacks when he goes south to Fisk ... realizes how narrow, limited life and opportunity is for blacks, learns southern black culture. Is accepted to Harvard and becomes the 1st black PHD ... does scholarly study of black slave trade, travels and studies in Europe. Complete a very important study of Negro family in Philadelphia, many thought a professional study of black families could not be done, but he proved them wrong. Believed in a liberal education for blacks which put him at odds to BTW. Du Bois is saying that the plague of the 20th century is the color line, BTW continues to believe that through education things could be made better. At Atlanta University, De Bois studies Negro Families. The assumption was that in 1900 most Afro-Americans were descendants of West Africa, and that West Africa social structure of 1900 century has not changed from 1st state in 1500 at the beginning of the American slave trade. He concludes that the greatest impact of slavery was the effect on strong family ties. He also had important studies of Negro Education and Negro Church. Founder of the Niagara Movement , organized in 1905. Becomes a founding member of NAACP in 1910 where he would gain his greatest voice as editor of newspaper "The Crisis" ... insisted on final say on content ... through its pages, he shapes the positions for the NAACP. After 1 year, about 10,000 members, after 10 years, 100,000 members provided an audience for Du Bois, opened publication to black artisans, gathered and published local community news. In 1912 his support for Democrat Wilson lands him in some trouble, despite his promises, Wilson is the most racist president up to this time. Du Bois did not believe an educated person could be racist. Living a long life, Du Bois sees in all, a contemporary of Douglas, Washington and M. L. King. He had suggested very eerily on, the successful strategy used to overturn Plessy and other segregation law by the gradual building up of case law. He was an active participant in The Harlem Renaissance.