English Across the Curriculum

African Americans

The Reconstruction Period

The time after the Civil War became known as the Reconstruction. The American government sent soldiers to the southern states to protect the Blacks and their newly won freedom.

Although they were officially free, most of them still lived in poverty and in very bad conditions. In the South they worked as sharecroppers, farmers who cultivated land and could keep a share of what they grew for themselves.

Whites continued to discriminate against African Americans. Blacks were not allowed to attend the same schools or go to the same churches as whites. Segregation meant a complete separation of life between the two groups. Blacks were also kept from voting.

During the second half of the 19th century violent groups started to terrorize the Blacks. The most famous was the Ku Klux Klan. Bands of white-hooded Klansmen rode through the countryside at night. They beat up and murdered many Blacks and white people who felt sympathy for them.

Three Ku Klux Klan members at a parade in 1922
Image: National Photo Company Collection,
Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons