Many people have helped and many kinds of groups have been formed to help win equal rights for everyone. Things are a lot better used to be, but the struggle is not over. Soon after the Declaration of Independence was signed there were groups that tried to end slavery. They were in Pennsylvania, Virginia, Rhode Island, Delaware, New Jersey, and Maryland, and Connecticut. It took a long time to win freedom for slaves.
Lots of slaves were taken to freedom in the North on the Underground Railroad. The Underground Railroad is the name of the system that slaves traveled in secret from one place to another. They usually hid during the day and traveled at nighttime. Some slaves even fought to be free.
Nat Turner was a preacher that led a slave revolt in Virginia in 1831. But they all ended up being executed. . President Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation of 1863 freed slaves in the Confederate states.
But it did not guarantee anyone an education, a job, or a place to live. The Thirteenth Amendment to the Constitution made slavery illegal. The Fourteenth and Fifteenth amendments were passed later, and they were supposed to give blacks all their civil rights, especially the right to vote. The Reconstruction period was 1865 – 1877. During this time many black people had important government jobs.
Louisiana, South Carolina, and Mississippi had black lieutenant governors, and Mississippi’s speaker of the house was black. The superintendent of public education in Florida was black. The South had 22 black representatives in Congress. White Southerners who hated blacks started the Ku Klux Klan in 1866.
It was also called the KKK. They tried to stop black people from voting and having other civil rights. They would wear white sheets and masks with pointed hoods. They would beat up blacks and public officials. They would burn crosses by the houses of people they wanted to scare. The KKK was declared illegal in 1869.
There is still a KKK even now that is against some races and nationalities, but it’s a secret organization now. Black people all over the country were still being denied their civil rights even though laws were passed to protect them. Congress passed an important civil rights act in 1875. This law guaranteed everyone the right to use public transportation and the right to attend theaters and other public places. But whites found ways to get around this law and the Supreme Court overturned it in 1883. After that, most southern blacks were denied the right to vote and other civil rights.
Relations between whites and blacks got worse. From 1900 on there were lots of bloody race riots in South Carolina, Georgia, Ohio, Indiana, Illinois and Texas. The Government didn’t do very much to help black people protect their civil rights. Many black leaders decided that they were the only ones who could solve their own problems.
One of their best leaders was W. E. B. Du Bois. Another black leader was Booker T.
Washington. He thought that if blacks were patient they would win their rights. Du Bois disagreed and argued because he thought blacks should demand their rights immediately. There was a big meeting of black leaders in Niagra Falls in 1905. The riots had scared many white and black leaders.
During about the same time another organization called the Urban League was started. And a man named Marcus Garvey started the Universal Negro Improvement Association at about the same time. He stressed black pride, and made up the slogan “Black is beautiful,” and said blacks should return to Africa and build new lives. Thousands of blacks came to northern cities looking for jobs during World War I and lots of blacks joined the U. S.
armed forces to fight in the war. They tried to improve their conditions when they came back from .