The First and Second Reconstructions


"Some people say we've got a lot of malice some say its a
lot of nerve.
 But, I say we won't quit moving until we get what we
 We have been bucked and we have been conned. 
We have been treated bad, talked about as just bones. 
But just as it takes two eyes to make a pair. 
Brother we won't quit until we get our share. 
Say it loud- I'm Black and I'm Proud."

James Brown
 Say It Loud- I'm Black and I'm Proud the Album

The First and Second Reconstructions held out the great
promise of rectifying racial injustices in America. The
First Reconstruction, emerging out of the chaos of the
Civil War had as its goals equality for Blacks in voting,
politics, and use of public facilities. The Second
Reconstruction emerging out of the booming economy of the
1950's, had as its goals, integration, the end of Jim Crow
and the more amorphous goal of making America a biracial
democracy where, "the sons of former slaves and the sons of
former slave holders will be able to sit down together at
the table of brotherhood." Even though both movements, were
borne of high hopes they failed in bringing about their
goals because neither incorporated economic justice for
Blacks. Born in hope, they died in despair, as both
movements saw many of their gains washed away. 

The First Reconstruction came after the Civil War and
lasted till 1877. The political, social, and economic
conditions after the Civil War defined the goals of the
First Reconstruction. At this time the Congress was divided
politically on issues that grew out of the Civil War: Black
equality, rebuilding the South, readmitting Southern states
to Union, and deciding who would control government.1
Socially, the South was in chaos. Newly emancipated slaves
wandered the South after having left their former masters,
and the White population was spiritually devastated, uneasy
about what lay ahead. Economically, the South was also
devastated: plantations lay ruined, railroads torn up, the
system of slave labor in shambles, and cities burnt down.
The economic condition of ex-slaves after the Civil War was
just as uncertain; many had left former masters and roamed
the highways.2 

Amid the post Civil War chaos, various political groups
were scrambling to further their agendas. First, Southern
Democrats, a party comprised of leaders of the confederacy
and other wealthy Southern whites, sought to end what they
perceived as Northern domination of the South. They also
sought to institute Black Codes, by limiting the rights of
Blacks to move, vote, travel, and change jobs,3 which like
slavery, would provide an adequate and cheap labor supply
for plantations. Second, Moderate Republicans wanted to
pursue a policy of reconciliation between North and South,
but at the same time ensure slavery was abolished.4 Third,
Radical Republicans, comprised of Northern politicians,
were strongly opposed to slavery, unsympathetic to the
South, wanted to protect newly free slaves, and keep there
majority in Congress.5 The fourth political element, at the
end of the Civil War was President Andrew Johnson whose
major goal was unifying the nation. The fifth element were
various fringe groups such as, abolitionists and Quakers.
Strongly motivated by principle and a belief in equality,
they believed that Blacks needed equality in American
society, although they differed on what the nature of that
should be.6 

The Northern Radical Republicans, with a majority in
Congress, emerged as the political group that set the goals
for Reconstruction which was to prevent slavery from rising
again in the South. At first, the Radical Republicans
thought this could be accomplished by outlawing slavery
with the passage of the Thirteenth Amendment. But Southern
Democrats in their quest to restore their rule in the South
brought back slavery in all but name, by passing Black
Codes as early as 1865. Both Moderate Republicans and
Radical Republicans in Congress reacted. Joining together
in 1866, they passed a bill to extend the life and
responsibilities of the Freedmen's Bureau to protect newly
freed slaves against the various Black Codes. President
Johnson vetoed the bill, but Radical and Moderate
Republicans eventually were able to pass it.7 

The Black Codes and President Johnson's veto of all
Reconstruction legislation that was unfavorable to the
South, caused Moderate and Radical Republicans to change
their goals from just ending slavery to seeking political
equality and voting rights for Blacks.8 The new goals, were
based on humanitarian and political considerations.
Northerners had grown increasingly sympathetic to the
plight of the Blacks in the South following numerous well
publicized incidents in which innocent Blacks were
harassed, beaten, and killed.9 The extension of suffrage to
Black males was a political move by the Republicans in
Congress who believed that Blacks would form the backbone
of the Republican Party in the South, preventing Southern
Democrats from winning elections in Southern states, and
uphold the Republican majority in Congress after the
Southern States rejoined the Union. As one Congressman from
the North bluntly put it, "It prevents the States from
going into the hands of the rebels, and giving them the
President and the Congress for the next forty years."10
Until the 1890's, this policy of achieving equality through
granting political rights to Blacks worked moderately well.
During Reconstruction, newly freed slaves voted in large
numbers in the South. Of the 1,330,000 people registered to
vote under Reconstruction Acts 703,000 were Black and only
627,000 were White.11 Even after 1877, when federal troops
were withdrawn12, Jim Crow laws did not fully emerge in the
South and Blacks continued to vote in high numbers and hold
various state and federal offices. Between 1877 and 1900, a
total of ten Blacks were elected to serve in the US
Congress.13 This occurred because Southern Democrats forged
a unlikely coalition with Black voters against White
laborers14. Under this paternalistic order Southern
Democrats agreed to protect Blacks political rights in the
South in return for Black votes15. 

But voting and election figures hide the true nature of
Black political power during and after Reconstruction. Few
Blacks held elective offices in relation to their
percentage of the South's population.16 And those in office
usually did not wield the power, which during
Reconstruction continued to reside with Moderate and
Radical Republicans in Congress, whites who ran Southern
state governments, and federal troops. Emancipated slaves
had little to do with either fashioning Reconstruction
policy or its implementation. Blacks political rights were
dependent upon alliances made with groups with conflicting
interests White Northern Republicans and White elitists in
the South.17 Though they pursued political equality for
Blacks, their goals were shaped more by self-interest than
for concern for Black equality. 

By 1905 Blacks lost their right to vote. In Louisiana alone
the number of Black voters fell from 130,334 in 1896 to
1,342 in 1904.18 The number of elected Black public
officials dropped to zero. The disenfranchisement of Blacks
was accomplished through good character tests, poll taxes,
White primaries, literacy tests, grandfather clauses, and
intimidation. By 1905, whatever success politically and
socially the Reconstruction had enjoyed had been wiped
out.19 Following on the heels of disenfranchisement came
implementation of comprehensive Jim Crow laws segregating
steamboats, toilets, ticket windows and myriad of other
previously non-segregated public places. 20 

Two historians, C. Van Woodward and William Julius Wilson,
both pin point specific events such as, recessions, class
conflicts, imperialist expansion to explain the rise of Jim
Crow. Wilson's21 and Woodward's22 analysis is lacking
because the United States has undergone many recessions and
many times minority groups such as Jews, Irish, and Eastern
Europeans have been blamed for taking away the jobs of the
lower-class; and yet these groups have not had their votes
stripped away from them and did not have an elaborate set
of laws constructed to keep them segregated in society as
Blacks have. The only community of people in the Untied
States who have been victims of systematic, long-term,
violent White Supremacy, have been Native Americans and
they, like Afro-Americans, have been predominately
powerless economically and politically. 

This points to the conclusion that the systemic demise of
the First Reconstruction stems from the failure of
Reconstruction leaders to include economic justice for
Blacks as a goal; thus dooming the Reconstruction movement
from the outset. The failure of pursuing a policy of
economic redistribution forced Blacks into fragile
political alliances that quickly disintegrated (as can be
seen in 1877 and 1896); Blacks were forced to rely on the
Radical Republicans and Federal troops to give them their
rights and later their former slave masters, the Southern
Democrats, to safeguard their rights.23 The disintegration
of these agreements were caused directly by the events that
Woodward and Wilson identified, but these political
agreements were inherently fragile and would have
inevitably unraveled because of their very nature. 

These political alliances had conflicting interests. The
poor sharecropper and the White elite of the South were
inherently unequal. The former slaves were looked on not as
equals, but as being inferior.24 Whatever well meaning
reforms were instituted, were done so paternalistically and
for Southern Democrat's own interests. 

When an alliance with Blacks no longer served the interests
of the whites, they were easily abandoned. When the Blacks'
agreement with the Southern Democrats unraveled, Blacks
were left economically naked except for the loin cloth of
political rights. But this loin cloth was easily stripped
from them, because lacking economic power, they were unable
to make other political allies. Their economic position
allowed them to be easily intimidated by White land owners,
they had no way to lobby the government, no way to leave
the South, few employment opportunities, and for many
Blacks no education.25 

The leaders of the Reconstruction failed to understand that
without economic justice Blacks would be forced into a
dependency on the White power structure to protect their
rights and when these rights no longer served the interests
of this power structure they were easily stripped away.
Reconstruction Acts and Constitutional Amendments offered
little protection to stop this stripping away of Black
political rights. 

The Reconstruction leaders failed to understand the
relationship between political rights and economic power.
If they had they might not have rejected measures that
could have provided former slaves with the economic power
to safeguard their political rights. Two possibilities
presented themselves at the outset of the First
Reconstruction. A Quaker and Radical Republican Congressman
from Pennsylvania, Thaddeus Stevens, proposed that the
North seize the land holdings of the South's richest land
owners as a war indemnity and redistribute the land giving
each newly freed Negro adult male a mule and forty acres.26
Thaddeus Stevens a bitter foe of the South,27 explained
that a free society had to be based on land redistribution: 

"Southern Society has more the features of aristocracy than
a democracy..... It is impossible that any practical
equality of rights can exist where a few thousand men
monopolize the whole landed property. How can Republican
institutions, free schools, free churches, free social
intercourse exist in a mingled community of nabobs and
serfs, of owners of twenty-thousand-acre manors, with
lordly palaces, and the occupants of narrow huts inhabited
by low White trash?"

Stevens plan in the Republican Press drew unfavorable
responses and was called brash and unfair. Only one
newspaper, the French paper La Temps, endorsed it by
stating that, "There cannot be real emancipation for men
who do no possess at least a small portion of soil."28 When
the bill was introduced in Congress, it was resoundingly
defeated by a majority of Republicans. Stevens was alone in
understanding the tremendous institutional changes that
would have to take place to guarantee the emancipation of a
people. If the former slave did not have his own land, he
would be turned into a serf in his own nation. 

The other alternative the leaders of Reconstruction had was
expanding the Freedmen's Bureau from a temporary to a
permanent institution that educated all former slaves and
ensured that former slaves had a viable economic base that
did not exploit them. Instead, the Freedmen's Bureau lasted
merely five years, and only five million dollars were
appropriated to it. Its mission to educate and protect the
Freedmen was met in only a small way in this short amount
of time. When the Freedmen's Bureau shutdown, it left the
education of former slaves to local governments which
allocated limited if any funds.29 Although proposed by a
few Republicans, the Freedmen's Bureau also refused to set
a minimum wage in the South to ensure that former slaves
received a fair wage from their former slave masters.
Instead, the Freedmen's Bureau was instrumental in
spearheading the formation of sharecropping by encouraging
both former slaves and plantation owners to enter into
sharecropping agreements.30 By the time the Bureau ceased
operations in 1870, the sharecropping system was the
dominant arrangement in the South. This arrangement
continued the poverty and oppression of Blacks in the
South. As one Southern governor said about sharecropping,
"The Negro skins the land and the landlord skins the

The Freedmen's Bureau missed a great opportunity. Had its
mission been broadened, its funding increased, and its
power been extended, it could have educated the Black
population and guaranteed some type of land reform in the
South. Because neither Thaddeus Steven's plan for land
redistribution or an expansion of the Freedmen's Bureau
took place, Blacks were left after slavery much as they
were before, landless and uneducated. In the absence of an
economic base for Blacks, three forces moved in during the
1890's wiping out the political successes of
Reconstruction: the white sheets of White supremacy, the
blue suits of politicians all too eager to unify whites
with racism, and the black robes of the judiciary in cases
like Plessy vs. Ferguson in 1896 stripping away Blacks'
social and political rights. 

The Civil Rights movement came nearly ninety years after
the First Reconstruction. The goals of the Second
Reconstruction involved at first tearing down the legal Jim
Crow of the South, but by the time of the March on
Washington in 1964, the goals had changed to guaranteeing
all Americans equality of opportunity, integration both
social and political, and the more amorphous goal of a
biracial democracy.32 But the goals did not include the
need to transform the economic condition of Blacks. Instead
they emphasized the need to transform the political and
social condition of Blacks.33 

At the beginning, the Civil Rights Movement sought
solutions to racial injustice through laws and used the
Federal courts to secure them. The Supreme Court set the
stage in 1954 with Brown vs. The Board of Education of
Topeka Kansas: the Brown decision focused the attention of
dominant Black institutions such as CORE (Congress On
Racial Equality) and the NAACP (National Association for
the Advancement of Colored People) on fighting the
illegality of segregation in Congress and courts.
Subsequent organizations that came to play larger roles in
the Civil Rights Movement such as, SNCC (Students
Non-violent Coordinating Committee) and SCLC (Southern
Christian Leadership Council) fell into this same pattern--
combating mainly legal segregation. Although they pioneered
different tactics-- sit-ins, boycotts, and marches, the
goal was to focus attention on getting rid of Jim Crow.34 

The Civil Rights movement, successfully pressured Congress
and the President to enact the 1964 Civil Rights Act and
the 1965 Voting Rights Act. The Civil Rights Movement also
brought about a fundamental shift in public opinion; de
jure racial discrimination became a moral wrong for many
Americans. The Civil Rights Movement by 1965 had broken the
back of legal Jim Crow in the South. However, in the North,
Blacks living under de facto segregation by economic and
racist conditions, segregated schools and housing, were
unaffected by the progress of the Civil Rights Movement.35
By the middle of 1965, the Civil Rights Movement had
stalled; never recovering its momentum.36 

C. Van Woodward views the failure of the Civil Rights
Movement to realize its goals and its disintegration in the
same myopic way he views the failure of the First
Reconstruction. He points to three different events, from
1965 to 1968, to explain the disintegration of the Civil
Rights Movement: riots in urban areas which created a White
backlash37, the rise of racial separatism and extremism
within the Civil Rights Movement and Black community, 38
and the Vietnam War which diverted White liberals'
attention. Woodward's analysis fails to provide a broad
perspective of why these events destroyed such a strong
movement. There had been riots in Birmingham, Alabama in
1963, yet these riots neither spread nor crippled the
movement.39 Black separatism had been a vocal movement
before 1965 in the form of the Nation of Islam.40 And mass
opposition to the Vietnam War among White liberals did not
pickup momentum until the late 1960's after the Civil
Rights Movement had stalled. 

On the other hand, William Julius Wilson provides a more
coherent explanation of the demise of the Civil Rights
Movement. Wilson says the movement failed because it did
not effectively address the economic plight of inner city
Blacks living in the North. This failure was caused by the
leadership of the Civil Rights Movement which had little
connection with Blacks in the ghetto. The leaders of the
movement were from the Southern middle-class Blacks; who
were either college students, teachers, preachers, or
lawyers.41 Like the leaders of the First Reconstruction,
the leaders of the Civil Rights Movement lacked
understanding of the economic needs of the Black
lower-class. Instead of addressing the economic plight of
Northern Black ghettoes, the Civil Rights Movement
continued to push for broad political and civil rights.
Inhabitants of Northern Ghettoes, were trapped not by Jim
Crow, but by poverty and de facto segregation. Nonviolent
protests, marches, pickets, and rallies did nothing to
change poor housing, lack of employment, and inferior

The Civil Rights Movement's battles to end Jim Crow in the
South and obtain passage of Civil Rights acts in the 1960's
raised awareness of lower-class Blacks in the ghetto to
racism and increased their impatience with police brutality
and economic injustice. This heightened awareness of racism
in their community and desperation over their plight,
turned poor urban Blacks into matches and ghettoes into
kindling. The Riots from 1965 to 1968 became a way to raise
economic issues the Civil Rights Movement had ignored. The
Riots were caused, not just by desperation, they had been
desperate for years, not just by a heightened awareness of
racism, they had been aware of it before 1965, but because
they found no answers to their plight. Neither White
politicians nor civil rights leaders had solutions for
their economic needs.42 

Wilson's analysis thus far provides answers for the riots
and subsequent White backlash, however, Wilson's
explanation of the emergence and appeal of Black Power is
lacking. Wilson says Black Power's emergence was caused by
riots in the summers from 1965 to 196, but these riots
occurred after Black Power had emerged inside the Civil
Rights Movement. In the spring of 1965 the leadership of
SNCC and CORE had expelled its White members, rejected
integration as a goal, and elected black separatists as
The emergence of the Black Power Movement is related to the
failure of the Civil Rights Movement to address lower-class
frustration with economic injustice, and de facto racism in
the North. Black Power as a movement, had many facets and
leaders. Black Power leaders were from the lower-class
while the Civil Rights Movements leaders were from the
middle-class. A few well known Black Power leaders were
Stokely Carmichael, a poor immigrant from Trinidad,
Eldridge Cleaver, the son of a Texas carpenter, who went to
jail for rape44, and Huey Newton, before becoming a
political leader, was a hustler. Other leaders such as
Angela Davis gravitated to the movement because of its mix
of Marxist and nationalist economic politics.45 The rise of
these leaders was a result of the Civil Rights Movement's
failure before 1965, to articulate a program of racial
justice for poor Blacks in the North. In this absence,
violent, vocal and angry leaders emerged to fill this void.
Leaders such as H. Rap Brown called for "killing the
honkies," James Brown called for Black pride with his song
"Say It Loud- I'm Black and I'm Proud." 

Black Power provided poor Blacks with psychological and
economic solutions to their problems. Psychologically it
brought about a shift in Black consciousness, a shift that
made being Black beautiful, no longer as W.E.B. Du Bois
wrote in 1905 were Blacks a "Seventh Son." But equally
important, the Black Power Movement tried to provide
economic answers to urban Blacks with answers such as:
racial separatism, moving back to Africa, taking over the
government, and taking "what was theirs" from whites.
Although these solutions ultimately proved unworkable for
solving economic problems, they tried, while the Civil
Rights movement did not attempt solutions. 

The failure of the Civil Rights Movement in articulating
and pursuing a plan of economic justice for lower-class
Blacks doomed the movement's goal of integration,
furthering de facto segregation in housing and schools. The
end of Jim Crow did not end the income difference between
Whites and Blacks. In 1954, Blacks earned approximately 53%
of what whites earned, and in 1980 they earned 57% what an
average White earns. At this rate racial equality in
average income would come in 250 years.46 This racial
inequality in income left unaddressed by the Civil Rights
Movement, forces poor Blacks to remain in deteriorating
slums in cities, while whites flee to the suburbs. The de
facto segregation that has emerged has shifted the good
jobs to suburbs and relegated lower-class Blacks in cities
to diminishing job prospects. This has caused rising rates
of unemployment, economic desperation, and jobs
predominantly in the low-wage sector. The poverty cycle
among lower-class Blacks remains after vestiges of legal
Jim Crow have disappeared.47 White flight to suburbs and
the poverty trap of the inner city for Blacks has been so
great that in 1980 the number of segregated schools
surpassed the number of segregated schools before 1954.48 

Both the First and Second Reconstructions left Blacks with
no economic base, dependent on others for their social and
political power. As in the First Reconstruction, when those
political alliances did not serve the needs of the whites
in power, Blacks were abandoned and their political and
social goals wiped out. In the 1990's most political
leaders have long given up on the plight of the Black urban
poor. Mandatory busing is fast being eliminated in major
cities, and Black leaders cry out for help to a President
and Congress more interested in balancing the budget,
cutting welfare costs, and spending on the military then
dealing with the complicated cycle of urban poverty. 

Though, the two Reconstructions held out great promise and
hope to Blacks in America, both failed to achieve their
broad goals and in subsequent decades much of their
accomplishments washed away. Yet, both brought significant
permanent changes. The First Reconstruction ended slavery
and the second ended legal segregation. But just as the
First Reconstruction disintegrated by the 1890's because of
the failure of the federal government to create a viable
economic base for freed slaves, the Second Reconstruction
did not result in a fully integrated society because it too
failed to fundamentally change the economic condition of
poor Blacks. 

The Black experience in America is a contradiction for
there is no one black experience just as there is no one
white experience. In the same way, the failure of the First
and Second Reconstructions was caused not by one event but
by many. The failings of these Reconstructions are not as
simple as racism, politics, or individual events; to single
out one to explain such complicated periods gives an
incomplete picture of both history and the nature of
racism. The leaders of both the First and Second
Reconstructions fell into this trap and sought to solve
racial inequality through political means. Their failure to
see the economic dimensions of racism was key to the demise
of the First and Second Reconstructions. While far from the
movements' only failing, it is a factor that has been
ignored by historians such as C. Vann Woodward and William
Julius Wilson. America still has a long way to go to reach
a place where "little Black boys and Black girls will be
able to join hands with little White boys and White girls
as sisters and brothers." We are still a divided society-
economically if not legally. We are divided between the
inner city ghettoes of South Central LA and the mansions of
Beverly Hills; between Harlem's abandoned buildings and the
plush apartments of Park Avenue. Racial injustice will
never be solved with mere politics and laws, anger and
separatism. If we fail to bridge this divide the question
of the Twenty-First century like the Twentieth will be that
of the color line.
1Eric Foner, Reconstruction: America's Unfinished
Revolution (New York: Harper and Row, 1988) p.228.
2 Ibid. pp.124-125.
3 Eli Ginzberg and Alfred S. Eichner, Troublesome Presence:
Democracy and Black Americans (London: Transaction
Publishers, 1993) p. 148.
4 Ibid. p. 152.
5 Eric Foner, Reconstruction: America's Unfinished
Revolution (New York: Harper and Row, 1988) pp.229-231.
6Daniel J. Mcinerney, The Fortunate Heirs of Freedom:
Abolition and the Republican Party (Lincoln: University of
Nebraska Press, 1994) p.151.
7 Eric Foner, Reconstruction: America's Unfinished
Revolution (New York: Harper and Row, 1988) pp.228-251.
8 The transformation of the goals of Reconstruction was
caused by Johnson's veto of nearly every Reconstruction
bill. This forced Moderates to join the Radical Republicans
in an alliance against President Johnson. Eli Ginzberg and
Alfred S. Eichner, Troublesome Presence: Democracy and
Black Americans (London: Transaction Publishers, 1993)
9 Ibid. p.159.
10Ibid. p. 161.
11 A total of twenty-two Blacks served in the House of
Representatives during Reconstruction. C. Eric Lincoln, The
Negro Pilgrimage in America (New York: Bantam, 1967) p.65.
12 In the Presidential election of 1876, the Democrat
Samuel J. Tilden, captured a majority of the popular vote
and lead in the electoral college results. But the
electoral votes of three Southern States still under
Republican rule were in doubt, as Ginzberg writes, "In all
three states the Republicans controlled the returning
boards which had to certify the election results, and in
all three states they certified their own parties ticket.
As the history books reveal, the crisis was finally
overcome when the Southern Democrats agreed to support the
Republican Candidate Rutherford B. Hayes, as a part of a
larger compromise (The Compromise of 1877). Hayes promised
in return to withdraw Federal troops from the South." Eli
Ginzberg and Alfred S. Eichner, Troublesome Presence:
Democracy and Black Americans (London: Transaction
Publishers, 1993) pp. 182-183.
13 C. Vann Woodward, The Strange Career of Jim Crow (New
York: Oxford University Press, 1974) p. 54.
14 Southern Democrats were comprised of Southern elites and
formed a coalition with Blacks to prevent poor Whites from
passing economic initiatives such as free silver, the break
up of monopolies, and labor laws. Gerald Gaither, Blacks
and the Populist Revolt: Ballots and Bigotry In the New
South (Ann Arbor: University Microfilms, 1972) p.299. 

15 The Coalition between poor Whites was based on a
paternalistic order as C. Vann Woodward explains, "Blacks
continued to vote in large numbers and hold minor offices
and a few seats in Congress, but this could be turned to
account by the Southern White Democrats who had trouble
with White lower-class rebellion." C. Vann Woodward,
Origins of a New South (Baton Rouge: Louisiana State
University Press, 1951) p.254.
16 Howard N. Robinowitz, Southern Black Leaders of the
Reconstruction Era ( Chicago: University of Chicago Press,
1982) p.396.
17 Ibid. p.398.
18 C. Vann Woodward, The Strange Career of Jim Crow (New
York: Oxford University Press, 1974) p. 85.
19 William Julius Wilson, The Declining Significance of
Race (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1980) p.63.
20 Until 1900, the only type of Jim Crow law (a law which
legally segregates races) prevalent in the South was one
applying to passengers aboard trains in the first class
section. C. Vann Woodward, The Strange Career of Jim Crow
(New York: Oxford University Press, 1974) p. 67.
21 Woodward sees the failure of Reconstruction as related
to three events. First, it was brought about by the rise of
racist theories and ideas in intellectual circles around
1890. These ideas, such as eugenics and social Darwinism
eroded support among elite groups such as Southern
Democrats and Northern Republicans for political equality
for Blacks. Second, the rise of United States imperialism
lead by the Republican party starting in 1898, undercut the
ability and willingness of Northern Republicans to be the
moral authority on racial equality. Third, the emergence of
the populist movement in the late 1880's and 1890's forced
the White elites to abandon their alliance with Blacks.
This was because both the populists and the Southern
Democrats sought the Black vote and when neither could be
assured of controlling it, both Parties realized that it
would be far better for them to disenfranchise the Black
population than fight for its votes. C. Vann Woodward, The
Strange Career of Jim Crow (New York: Oxford University
Press, 1974) pp.82-83.
22 Wilson sees the emergence of Jim Crow and
disenfranchisement of Blacks as related to three major
events. First, the recession of the 1890's and the boll
weevil blight brought Blacks and Whites in the
lower-classes in intense competition for a shrinking pool
of jobs. This intensification of competition between these
groups manifested itself in White supremacy. Second, the
rise of the labor movement in the 1890's lead to the rise
of lower-class Whites to power this allowed them to codify
into law Jim Crow which reflected their view of Blacks as
competition in the labor market. Third, the migration of
Blacks to urban areas in the North, and the use of Blacks
as strike-breakers in Northern factories, created racial
hostility among lower-class Whites toward Blacks. This
forced Northern Republicans to no longer focus on racial
equality because it undermined their support among White
labor. William Julius Wilson, The Declining Significance of
Race (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1980) pp.59-60.
23 Howard N. Robinowitz, Southern Black Leaders of the
Reconstruction Era ( Chicago: University of Chicago Press,
1982) p.400.
26 Ibid. p.399.
25 Gerald Gaither, Blacks and the Populist Revolt: Ballots
and Bigotry In the New South (Ann Arbor: University
Microfilms, 1972) p. 302.
26 Eli Ginzberg and Alfred S. Eichner, Troublesome
Presence: Democracy and Black Americans (London:
Transaction Publishers, 1993) p. 134.
27 Ibid. pp. 132-133.
28 Ibid. p.135.
29 W.E.B. Du Bois, Souls of Black Folk (New York: Bantam
Books, 1989) p.28.
30 Eli Ginzberg and Alfred S. Eichner, Troublesome
Presence: Democracy and Black Americans (London:
Transaction Publishers, 1993) p. 201.
31 Ibid. p.203.
32 Harvard Sitkoff, The Struggle for Black Equality (New
York: Hill and Wang, 1989) pp.162.
33 Although the March on Washington was called a march for,
"Freedom and Jobs" the goals of the March were political
and social and not economic. The reason the March was
called a march for, "Freedom and Jobs" was the idea for the
march came from A. Philip Randolph, head of the Brotherhood
of Sleeping Car Porters. Randolph first proposed the march
in 1941 to get President Roosevelt to open up defense jobs
for blacks. But the march did not gather widespread support
at the time. Then in 1962 Randolph planed a march for
economic justice for Blacks. The idea was supported by
CORE, SNCC, and SCLC. Martin Luther King's SCLC then took
over organizing the march and downgraded Randolph's
economic demands. Ibid. pp.159-161.
34 Ibid. p.96.
35 William Harris, The Harder We Run: Black Workers since
the Civil War (New York: Oxford University Press, 1982)
36 Harvard Sitkoff, The Struggle for Black Equality (New
York: Hill and Wang, 1989) p.199.
37 Between 1965 and 1968 there were over three hundred race
riots in American cities. Woodward concludes that these
riots helped bring about the end of the Civil Rights
Movement by creating factions within the movement as
different groups pursued different policies to rectify
injustice in the Northern ghettos. The Riots also created a
backlash among the White populace which manifested itself
in the defeat of the 1966 Civil Rights Act and the election
of Richard Nixon in 1968. Ibid. pp..222-223.
38 The rise of racial separatism and extremism manifested
itself within SNCC and CORE and the formation of Black
Separatist groups such as the Black Panthers, the
Weathermen, and RAM. The rhetoric of extremists inside SNCC
and in other groups captured television camera's and
although Reverend Martin Luther King continued to march and
speak, the face of the Civil Rights Movement became that of
Angela Davis and Huey Newton; the song of the Civil Rights
Movement changed from Reverend Martin Luther King's, "We
Shall Overcome," to Stokely Carmichael's, "We Shall
Overrun." Ibid. p..217.
39Ibid. p.145.
40 In 1963, Malcolm X was the most quoted Black spokesman,
"He played to the media, conjuring fantasies of jet fleets,
piloted by Blacks, someday bombing all White
neighborhoods." Ibid. p.154.
41 These Blacks were from what E. Franklin Frazier calls,
"the Black Bourgeoisie." E. Franklin Frazier, Black
Bourgeoisie (New York: Free Press, 1957) pp.103-104.
42 Leaders have emerged such as Minister Louis Farrakhan
and Colin Powell, who either propose Black Capitalist, and
nationalist solutions to the plight of the urban poor, much
like Marcus Garvey in the 1920's, or they provide
accommodationist views of the Black struggle in America
which meets with the approval of White elites much like
Booker T. Washington at the turn of the century. Cornel
West, Race Matters (New York, Random House, 1994) p.57.
43 Harvard Sitkoff, The Struggle for Black Equality (New
York: Hill and Wang, 1989) p.212.
44 Kathleen Rout, Eldridge Cleaver (Boston: Twayne
Publishers, 1991) p.80.
45 Angela Davis, Frame Up (San Francisco: National
Committee To Free Angela Davis, 1972) p.7.
46 Harvard Sitkoff, The Struggle for Black Equality (New
York: Hill and Wang, 1989) p.234.
47 Civil Rights initiatives though have helped the Black
middle-class who have experienced unprecedented job
prospects as they have been able to escape the urban
ghettos and take advantage of jobs in the corporate and
government sector. This points to what Wilson calls, "the
declining significance of race in determining poverty,"
instead of race dictating someone's economic status, the
status of their class is what determines their economic
future; with the poor Blacks getting poorer and
middle-class Blacks becoming wealthier. Because of this
economic inequality in the Black community has grown more
than inequality in the White community. William Julius
Wilson, The Declining Significance of Race (Chicago:
University of Chicago Press, 1980) pp.151-154.
48 Harvard Sitkoff, The Struggle for Black Equality (New
York: Hill and Wang, 1989) p.231.


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