The Treatment of African Americans
Following Reconstruction African Americans were free of slavery but not from society. They were segregated, severely mistreated, and for many in the south taken and hung.
In the state Louisiana all railway cars were segregated. Homer Plessy was arrested and tried for sitting in the white section. Mr. Justice Harlan and Mr. Justice Brown shared their opinions of segregation and the case at the trial.
"Slavery, as an institution tolerated by law, would, it is true, have disappeared from our country, but there would remain a power in the states, by sinister legislation, to interfere with the full enjoyment of the blessings of freedom; to regulate civil rights, common to all citizens, upon the basis of race"(Harlan).
Harlan said that slavery no longer exists in America but there is a dark injustice within our own government. Through segregation and other laws like it, the freedom of African Americans is challenged and compromised because of the corrupt parts of the government and society.
The Union as it Was
Thomas Nast was a talented artist and political cartoonist during the time of reconstruction in America. His work was always made to represent the truth about society and politics. The image below is a political cartoon of his named the Union as it Was.
This political cartoon shows the K.K.K and the white league shaking hands over a banner showing the disturbing scenes of a destroyed black school house and parents mourning the death of their young child. The K.K.K would commit crimes like burning down a black school or slaughtering African American families just because they didn't agree with the freeing of the slaves. The most horrific part is that the K.K.K was supported like it was just another piece of society.
Frederic Douglass was one of the greatest and most influential African American spokesman of this time. Douglass and many more gathered to hear his speech The Color Line motivating his people to peacefully continue through their harsh treatment.
"It is our lot to live among a people whose laws, traditions, and prejudices have been against us for centuries, and from these they are not yet free...Though we have had war, reconstruction, and abolition as a nation, we still linger in the shadow and blight of an extinct institution...what is true of our churches is also true of our courts of law. Neither is free from this all-pervading atmosphere of color hate"(Douglass).
Douglass says that African Americans are not yet free from the way of life against them that has existed in America for years. Even after the war and years of rebuilding blacks are still left to fight for their freedom and equality to whites. Even in their most sacred places there is a line of color hate in society that must be forgotten to truly move forward.
Plessy v. Ferguson. Louisiana supreme court. 1896. print.
Nast, Thomas. "The Nation as it Was." Harper's Weekly, New York ; Harper's Weekly, 1874.
Douglass, Fredrick. "The Color Line in America" Washington. 24 sept, 1883. speech.