‘Life improved for African Americans after the abolition of slavery?’ 1865-1900
Assess the validity of this view.
In many ways’ life did improve for African Americans after slavery. However, there was always something that meant they were never completely free and equal to the rest of society. In this essay I will be evaluating whether African Americans experienced a better life after slavery. The 13th, 14th and 15th amendments had a significant impact on changing African Americans quality of life and the Black community really came together. However, the Government in the South, the KKK, ‘Jim Crow’ laws and poverty were all still a heavy burden experienced by African Americans after slavery. In my opinion, life didn’t improve for African Americans because they were still treated differently and segregated from everyone else.
In 1865, the government passed the 13th Amendment. This ended slavery, which meant a newfound freedom for African Americans. This also made the United States a free country, by abolishing and prohibiting slavery. African Americans were free, they were no longer owned and could technically do whatever they wanted. This was a major step forward for African Americans. They could now seek their own jobs and become a part of their own community. Shortly after the 13th amendment was passed, the 14th amendment was signed. This aimed at ‘granting all its people the right to American citizenship, irrespective of their ethnic differences’. In the 14th amendment there was an equal protection clause. This was included because states were finding ways around federal and state laws to continue to deny certain rights to former slaves. African Americans were now legal members of society, which is a huge step forward from their lives before. Finally, the 15th amendment was passed. This gave everyone, no matter their ethnicity, the right to vote. The 13th, 14th and 15th amendments all contributed to African Americans taking steps forward away from their lives in slavery. However, their lives didn’t improve that much because there was always segregation and they were treated differently. For example; the Supreme Court ruled in Plessy v. Ferguson (1896), that facilities for black and white people had to be 'separate but equal'. In reality, black people’s facilities were almost always worse, in comparison to white facilities. The 15th amendment, had flaws as well, which limited the chance for African Americans to have an opinion. States did this by making it almost impossible for them to register. They introduced literacy tests, with questions such as; ‘How many bubbles are in a bar of soap?’. There was also the introduction of the Grandfather clause which stated, only an adult man whose grandfather had voted prior to1867 had the right to vote. However, African Americans didn’t have the vote before this date, so they were banned from voting. Limiting their rights and stripping away their freedom.
After slavery, many African American lived in...