The end of the Civil War can certainly be viewed as an important landmark in the history of the United States because it signified the liberation of slaves who were previously denied the right to their life and freedom. Nevertheless, one should not suppose that the experiences of black people changed profoundly after 1865. To a great extent, the period between 1865 and 1955 was marked by the struggle against oppression and discrimination. Overall, one can say that African Americans attempted to achieve three long-term goals, namely economic self-sufficiency, consolidation of the community, and political representation. To attain these objectives, various formal organizations focused on such aspects as education, employment, religion, and press. These are the main aspects that should be discussed in greater detail.
It should be kept in mind in many parts of the United States, black people remained completely dependent on their former owners, even after 1865. These people did not have money to purchase land or tools of production; therefore, they had to borrow capital. This financial dependence often reduced them the status of slaves once again since they could become life-long debtors. Moreover, these people could often be imprisoned without any justification. More importantly, they were forced to work without any compensation (Slavery by Another Name). These chain gangs were sold to people who needed very cheap labor force (Slavery by Another Name). In turn, many public administrators choose to turn a blind eye to such practices.
Additionally, one should not forget about such practices as disfranchisement and racial segregation that dehumanized black people. These are some of the examples indicating that African Americans were marginalized by the state. To a great extent, they were deprived of opportunities to strengthen their social position.
They had to adopt different approaches to struggle against various forms of oppression. First of all, their strategies were aimed at making African Americans more self-sufficient and independent of the state. There were many organizations that focused on such issues as employment, education, and career development. For example, one can speak about the National Urban League, which was formed in 1911 (Fairdough, 118). Overall, the main goal of this organization was to strengthen the economic independence of these people.
This agency was particularly important during the period of the Great Migration or the movement of African Americans from the southern parts of the United States to other regions of the country. In many cases, these individuals found it difficult to integrate into new communities, and they needed the assistance of people who had already settled in these urban areas. To a great extent, the activities of the National Urban League were important for increasing the bargaining power of black people.
When discussing the economic aspects of their struggle, one can also mention the activities of African-American entrepreneurs such as Anthony Overton. This person founded plenty of businesses that served the needs of black people. Moreover, such people provided funding to many schools to help African-American children gain access to education. In many cases, the efforts of these people were critical for strengthening the bargaining power of the African-American community. More importantly, the activities of such individuals enabled black people to avoid the humiliation that they faced when dealing with some white entrepreneurs. This is another detail that should not be disregarded. Certainly, they could not help every African American, but they did make black communities more independent.
Additionally, many African American activists strived to raise people’s awareness about the absurdity and immorality of discriminatory policies. To a great extent, such formal organizations tried to demonstrate that one had to oppose the existing social norms, instead of accommodating to them. In this case, it is possible to mention the Niagara movement established in 1905 (Fairdough 56). Additionally, they attempted to affect the decisions of policy-makers. It was represented by such people as Du Bois and William Trotter whose views were important for many African American intellectuals. These thinkers emphasized the idea that black people had to regard themselves as a cohesive group. They also published newspapers describing difficulties faced by black people.
Moreover, their ideas eventually became the basis for many reforms implemented in the second half of the twentieth century. This is why they can be singled out among others. On the whole, the Niagara movement increased the political and social activities of African Americans.
Apart from that, much attention should be paid to the consolidation of the African-American community. An important role was played by the black churches since these institutions enabled these people to interact with one another and discuss the most important problems that affected them (Fairdough 21). These churches prevented black people from becoming alienated. This is why their role cannot be downplayed. The role of these organizations will become even more important during the Civil Rights Movement. It should be borne in mind that these black churches were later represented by such people as Martin Luther King or Bernard Lee, who played an instrumental role in changing the policies of the state.
Furthermore, one should keep in mind that in many cases, African-Americans were more willing to fight against possible oppression. This argument is particularly relevant if one speaks about war veterans who participated in World War I. These people believed that their rights had to be recognized by the state and white citizens. Furthermore, their war experienced enabled them to see that in Europe, racial discrimination was not regarded as a norm. This is why many of these people were willing to join nationalist groups such as the Universal Negro Improvement Association founded by Marcus Garvey (Fairdough 111). Admittedly, such organizations failed to change the political agenda of the state.
Nevertheless, their very existence demonstrated that African Americans were willing to join their efforts to fight against injustice. These are some of the details that should be considered. To a great extent, the organizations and individuals described in this paper can be viewed as the direct precursors to the Civil Rights Movement, which changed the status of African-American people in the United States.
Overall, it is possible to argue that after the end of the Civil War, black people were deprived of opportunities for social progress. Therefore, they had to use various approaches to cope with the discriminatory policies of the state. Their policies of various non-governmental organizations were aimed at increasing the bargaining power and economic self-sufficiency of African-American people. Moreover, activists attempted to make black people more aware of the need for political struggle. Furthermore, African-Americans laid stress on the unity of their communities as a means of protecting themselves against social oppression.
Fairdough, Adam. Better Day Coming: Blacks and Equality 1890-2000, New York: Penguin Books Ltd, 2002. Print.
Slavery by Another Name. Ex. Prod. Catherine Allan. New York: Public Broadcasting Service, 2012. Web.