In the United States history there have been many dark times, but many people agree that one of the worst times was during the enslavement of African Americans. Racism was a major problem between the years of 1865 to 1930. Because of the color of their skin, African Americans were treated like animals not humans so the whites decided to use this for labor purposes. Between these years slaves were separated from their families and sold into slavery. They were beaten on a daily basis and women were raped.
Whites even used children to become their slaves, working this in factories for days at a time.
Because of racism towards the African Americans, these children never had a childhood. Some slaves did make an effort to rebel, for example Harriet Tubman masterminded the Underground Railroad to help slaves escape captivity. David Walker also spoke out years before 1865 calling for a bloody rebellion in the south. Nat Turner, led a slave insurrection leading to the killing of 57 whites.
During these years black codes were passed in which African Americans were mistreated; socially, politically and economically. African Americans were discriminated against because of the color of their skin.
They were seen simply as property and not people. This led them to be abused violently by upcoming racist groups like the Klu Klux Klan (KKK). James W. Loewen author of Lies my Teacher told Me and a professor of emeritus sociology stated that, ”In Hinds country Mississippi, alone, whites killed an average of one American a day during the confederate reconstruction…[and] In Louisiana in the summer and fall of 1868, white democrats killed 1,081 African Americans”. (Loewen, 160) . Slaves were well aware of the conversations going on around them. They too had their own opinions about their situation.
Oscar J. Dunn a former slave stated, “We are insulted in every occasion, whenever they have an opportunity. In going through the streets it is common thing to hear them say ‘these Negros think they have their own way now’, but they are mistaken. The president is with us and we will soon drive the Negros and their yanky friends off. ”(Article, Dee, 3) These types of racist groups were driven by hatred claiming to have some type of political standing, but they were simply after eugenics. Also, whites were creating terms which stripped slaves from any human characteristics.
Paternalism was one of these terms which denied the practice of slavery in the south as either brutal or exploitative, instead this defined slavery as reciprocal obligations. Even slaves who had escaped union lines were still not seen as equals they were simply referred to as contraband of war. They were not only unequally treated socially, but politically as well. Politicians were coming up with different ways to justify slavery and stop racism. Even though the constitutional amendments were passed, African American’s rights to vote could be taken away from them by the whites due to the fact that whites provided work for them.
When the 13th Amendment was passed in the 1865, it meant that African Americans were free from slavery. The 14thAmendment gave blacks the right to have their citizenship and the 15thAmendment stated that, “The right of citizens to vote shall not be denied on terms of race, color conditions of servitude. ” (Zinn, 192). Whites quickly acted out and enacted few laws known as “Black Codes”. These laws were made so that African Americans even though finally were let free, the whites made sure that they were restricted certain activity and were still used as a labor force.
Ex-slave Thomas Hall told Federal Writers, “Lincoln got the praise for freeing us, but did he do it? He gave us freedom without giving us any chance to live to ourselves and we still had to depend on the southern white man for work, foods and clothing, and he held us out of necessity and want in a state of servitude but little better than slavery. ” (Zinn, 198). In the “Black Codes”, the first law passed here was the Grandfather clause. This was a law that said anyone whose grandfather could vote, that person could vote.
Whites were able to do so, yet African American’s grandfathers were never able to vote, leaving their grandchildren unable to do so as well. Poll taxes were also an issue. These taxes were required for you to vote and if you couldn’t pay it you were unable to vote. African Americans had very limited funds and therefore were unable to vote. Whites did all they could to pass laws, so that only they had the right to vote and no one else. Zinn stated, “[the] south returned to white supremacy… it was only a matter of time before blacks would be reduced once again to conditions not far from slavery” (Zinn 203).
Another law that whites passed so that African Americans could not vote was a literacy test. If you could pass a literacy test then you were able to vote. Slaves did not attend school and did not know how to read or right. Only whites were able to afford poll taxes, had grandfathers that voted and had the knowledge of passing a literacy test, leaving the African Americans were once more unable to have a voice. Every positive attempt to towards progress to end slavery and for equality seemed to be overthrown. The Missouri Compromise was passed which allowed slavery below the latitude of 36 and 30.
This would soon be overthrown by the chief justice Rodger B. Taney declaring the Missouri compromise was unconstitutional and ruled that African Americans could never be citizens of the United States of America. Ulysses Grant also got some public criticism during his tenure because he wanted to acquire Santo Domingo to ship African Americans. The Freedman’s Bureau also raised false hopes for ex-slaves hopes of owning their own land. The Freedman’s Bureau was an attempt of a good idea, but due to lack of funds and personnel it was not able to fully carry out the programs.
Eventually congress shut it down due to pressure from white southerners. Every attempt was made to limit the rights of slaves. The Supreme Court ruling of the Dred Scott case said that blacks could never be citizens and proved to be one of the darkest times in American History. Even though slaves were vital in the economy during this time they were still not seen as equal to whites. Without slaves plantation owners would not have been able to prosper the way they did. Rice was a stable crop in the tide water area of the Carolinas in Georgia, which required canals, dikes and a huge number of slaves, yet slaves were still not appreciated.
Not even the elderly slaves were spared. Elderly slaves cared for the plantation owners’ small children, spun yarn, fed the live stalk, and cleared stables. When black children started attending school they were able to express themselves. When they began doing this it was clear that they understood what had been going on during slavery. In a conversation between a teacher and the students the teacher asked the students, “if they believed whites were better than them. The students said no. then the teacher asked what makes them different than you. The students responded money.
Money that they stole from us” (Zinn, 201). Even though laws were passed for racial equality blacks would still be restrained due to their economic standing in society. Zinn stated, “[as] long as the Negro remained dependent on privileged whites for work, for the necessities of life, his vote would be bought or taken by threat of force. Thus, laws calling for equal treatment became meaningless”. (Zinn, 203). Slaves would have to fight and struggle long before they would actually be able to be considered as equals. African Americans were enslaved for over 200 years.
They literally had to fight for their freedom. Even after legally blacks were completely free they were still not looked at as equals by everyone. Abraham Lincoln passed the emancipation proclamation after the war of Antietam which was the bloodiest single day of the war. It wasn’t until the 13th amendment was passed that slavery was finally abolished. The 14th amendment granted African Americans, American citizenship and due process under the law. Once Lincoln had passed these laws, there were still some racists whites that felt the need to keep blacks under their feet.
Sharecropping was one of these ways. Each slave was promised 40 acres of land and a mule, but in order to grow crops and sell them they needed the right tools to do so. They looked to landowners (mostly whites) for necessities to grow their crop. These landowners would lend them the tools and said, whatever money the blacks made a certain percentage would go to them and they would deduct the cost of tools and supplies. Once the blacks sold their crops they were left with zero dollars in their pockets, and the whites had this sneaky way of keeping them their slaves.
In conclusion, racism from these times was a serious matter. Due to the fact that a persons skin was another color, others felt the need to use and abuse them. Making them feel unworthy by doing and saying terrible things to them. This was social suicide for many blacks. Even after laws were passed to end enslavement and try to take care of racism, others felt the need to keep blacks as slaves and do things like sharecropping. Lucky for our country today, many more laws were made and racism has slowed down, but unfortunately is still common.
Cite this Racism Towards Blacks
Racism Towards Blacks. (2016, Oct 22). Retrieved from https://graduateway.com/racism-towards-blacks/