African-Americans in Post-Reconstruction America

  1. Jim Crow and the New South
    1. In the years after the Civil War, racism was growing nation wide,  especially in 1880s and 1890s, but segregation was not common
    2. Spurred by Supreme Court decisions limiting Federal power to enforce civil right,  some states began a slow move towards segregation
    3. Plessy v. Ferguson (1896)
      1. Blacks challenged an 1890 Louisiana law segregating train compartments
      2. Many railroad companies were against the law - it cost more money, as they had to buy more cars
      3. In 1896, the Supreme Court ruled in favor of Louisiana
        1. Laws, the Court argued, could neither create nor end racial prejudice
        2. Therefore, segregation laws did not create discrimination, so long as they adhered to established customs
        3. enshrined the doctrine of "separate but equal"
        4. inspired a rash of segregationist legislation, especially in the South, that would not be overturned for fifty years
    4. Numerous techniques used to restrict Blacks from voting
      1. Violence, poll taxes, literacy tests, etc, all used to keep Blacks from voting, particularly in the South
      2. "Grandfather clauses" enabled illiterate whites to vote if their grandfathers had voted - Supreme Court overturned this in 1915
      3. The violence of the Klan and related groups during Reconstruction was followed by race riots in the early 1900s
        1. These riots usually involved whites invading African-American neighborhoods and unleashing terror
        2. Not just in the South - Midwest and North saw this violence as well
  2. Black responses to racism and Jim Crow
    1. Booker T. Washington and the Atlanta Compromise
      1. Washington focused on self-improvement
      2. Believed that the political situation made it difficult to pursue equality through courts, government
      3. At Tuskegee, focused instead on practical education - with economic gains, he believed, would come greater equality
      4. This belief became known as the Atlanta Compromise
        1. named after a speech Washington gave at the Atlanta Exposition of 1895
        2. a recognition of white political domination
        3. pursuit of progress through a long and steady process of self-improvement
    2. W.E.B. Du Bois and the Niagara Movement
      1. Not all Blacks were prepared to accept Washington's patient, long-term strategy - wanted a more aggressive approach
      2. Du Bois attacked Washington in The Soul of Black Folk (1903)
        1. instead of the manual trades Washington emphasized, Du Bois encouraged Blacks to seek professional careers
        2. sought to create a college-educated "talented tenth" to provide leadership
        3. urged Blacks to actively work for their civil rights
      3. Niagara Movement
        1. Led by Du Bois, a number of Black leaders met on Canadian side of Niagara Falls in 1905, founded the Niagara Movement
        2. Inspired by Du Bois, pledged to pursue equality in voting and all other civil rights
        3. rejected Washington's' gradualist approach - no end to political agitation until rights are fulfilled
        4. emphasized the importance of education
    3. Ida B. Wells
      1. First female editor of a major newspaper
      2. Launched an anti-lynching campaign in 1892
      3. Eventually forced to flee Memphis after her press was destroyed
      4. Became an activist in Chicago, worked to help migrants who moved up from the South
  3. African Americans on the Plains
    1. Some African-American chose to escape Jim Crow segregation by heading West
    2. Buffalo Soldiers
      1. For about twenty years after the Civil War, two black regiments, the 9th and 10th Calvary, served in the West
      2. No shortage of volunteers - good pay, room and board, opportunity for advancement
      3. Got their nickname from the Cheyenne
      4. Fought in all the major campaigns during the Indian Wars
      5. Many settled in the West after the wars ended
    3. Settlers
      1. Many of the sodbusters were black
      2. Moved west to escape sharecropping and the Black Codes of the South
      3. Usually migrated in large groups
      4. The biggest of these were the Exodusters - 6000 people who moved from the South to Kansas in 1879