Truth-Telling: Frances Willard and Ida B. Wells

Reconstruction and its Aftermath

The years following the Civil War were challenging ones in the United States. Though slavery had been abolished, full equality for African-Americans under the law and in daily life had not been established. Reconstruction was the means by which the U.S. government formally addressed this, with amendments to the constitution and legal actions to support equal rights, but it only lasted until 1877 and was only partially successful. Underlying racist attitudes permeated American culture and produced a culture of exclusion and even violence.

African-Americans built strong and thriving communities filled with schools, churches, businesses and cultural organizations, and civil rights activism grew as these rights were threatened. By 1890, Jim Crow segregation policies were created to restrict African-Americans and violent acts against blacks were growing throughout the country. In many ways, the Civil War was fought again during these years, and racism won.

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