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American History (Research Paper Sample)


The tasks involved writing about the African Americans and review their history from 1865 to present. I was required to choose six specific events within this period and come up with a thesis depending on their impact on African Americans. The paper called for 8 sources.


American History
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American History
The history of African Americans in the United States tells a story of both immense suffering, as well as unending hope. Americans of African descent endured many years of slavery and segregation, which prohibited black people from enjoying the rights of citizenship. The black people in America suffered oppression, denied citizenship, and those, who tried to fight, endured beatings or were just killed. In most of the country, blacks were prohibited from sharing spaces with the white community, such as schools, public transport, and even recreational amenities, while stiff measures were enforced to ensure that they did not live near whites. However, despite this suffering, black people persevered and rose up to fight for their rights even in the situations, where it appeared useless. In the face of racism, the African American community rose up to educate themselves, study literature, compose songs, and made a huge contribution to the development of the American society. This paper explores black discrimination, segregation, and the way black movements rose to fight for freedom that they enjoy today, as well as their contribution to the development of the American society (Laird, 2009, p. 15).
The Reconstruction Era 1865-1877
Stampp & Lincon (1965, p. 218) argue that the reconstruction era emerged in the period between 1865 and 1877, which followed the American Civil War. This period tried to address the inequalities that had been created by slavery in order to better the lives of black people. Practically, in 1866, slavery died after the Civil War as the Thirteenth Amendment formally eradicated slavery in all states and regions. Additionally, the African American males attained the right to be protected and the right to vote through the fourteenth and fifteenth amendments, respectively. The Civil Rights Act of 1866 ensured that blacks gained the power to vote, sue, serve in public offices, and other legal rights. In 1867, the South, which had strict slave measures, divided into five conquered districts, and each remained under the control of the military (Stampp & Lincon, 2005, p. 219).
However, despite the changes in the Unites States (US) Constitution, the white people’s attitude towards the black people did not change. The black community had only faced bondage before the war, and after the war they faced the problem of building their lives in a community that saw them as second class citizens. The Southern whites ensured that freed slaves received minimal rights by passing a series of black codes. The black codes denied the black people rights to create contracts, testify against whites, intermarry with whites, gain employment, as well as loiter in the public areas. Additionally, a white supremacy band called Ku Klux Klan came into being and committed the acts of aggression, such as beatings and murder towards blacks. In 1871, Congress had to pass the Ku Klux Klan Act, which forced the military to provide protection to the black community (Stampp & Lincon, 2005).
In 1877, the US military withdrew its hold on the South, and this means that the white had rapidly returned to power. Many black people returned to a state of bondage and discrimination called sharecropping. In sharecropping, the blacks leased pieces of land from former masters and in return they received a small percentage of the crop yield. By the end of 1880, approximately 80% of the black people from the south turned to sharecroppers as a means of survival. Sharecropping became a problem for the blacks because of demeaning renting and high cost of seeds, which left many black people in debt to the white farmers (Stampp & Lincon, 2005).
Jim Crow 1878-1920
After the reconstruction era, when the military withdrew from the South, the black people did not have protection from the white supremacy. This led to the rise of the Jim Crow system, which came into place from 1878 towards the end of 1950s. The Jim Crow laws allowed segregation of white from black in a situation, where whites tried to ensure their supremacy over the black community. The laws ensured that whites and blacks remained separated in public schools, restaurants, transport systems, cinemas, public bathrooms, and hotels among others. There are the states that declared that marriage between black and white would not be permitted in any instance. The Jim Crow laws got to be tested initially in 1896, when Homer Plessy got convicted for riding in a railway car only allowed to whites. The segregation of races became legalized under the Constitution as long as the amenities remained “separate but equal” (Kousser, 2003, p. 479).
By 1890s, racism against the blacks had reached new heights, as a law created in Mississippi prohibited blacks from voting, managed to pass. Most southern states only allowed voting to the blacks who owned property, could read, those, whose ancestors had voted before, and those, who they believed had “good character”. The entire country experienced Jim Crows, as it spread to ensure that blacks remains inferiors to the white power. In South Carolina, black and white textile employees could not use the same room, while in Richmond black and white could not share the same street. By 1914, Texas had six major towns where blacks were not allowed to stay or live (Kousser, 2003, p. 479).
However, despite the discrimination, the blacks continued to fight for their rights and freedom against white exploitation. In 1950s, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) focused on eliminating segregation in buses and trains. In 1956, African Americans led by Martin Luther King and Rosa Parks organized a successful yearlong Montgomery Bus Boycott. Black people refused to ride on buses even though most of them had always used it, and chose to walk or share rides with fellow blacks. In 1952, the Supreme Court declared that separation of white and blacks in the state railways was unconstitutional according to the Fourteenth Amendment (Kousser, 2003, p. 479).
Harlem Renaissance 1919 -1930s
The deep segregation in the South that oppressed the African Americans led to the rise of the Harlem Renaissance. The Harlem Renaissance became a time of huge migration of African Americans to the cities such as Chicago, Washington, DC, and New York, in search of better lives. This period became explosive from 1919 to 1930s, where writers, singers, and artists of African American heritage came together to pursue their dreams. Once the World War I ended, the shortage of workers in the American industries encouraged many blacks to go in search of better opportunities in these cities. The migration of the black people to the cities in order to concentrate on their works became a huge success, which led to the development in black cultural, social, and artistic prowess (Wintz, 1998).
The Harlem Renaissance promoted various black artists including Langston Hughes, Claude McKay, Jean Toomer, Arna, Bontemps, and Countee Cullen among others. W.E.B Du Bois encourage black artists to leave the South to share their creative works with the world. In essence, this period focused on celebrating the African American heritage and offering them the opportunity to grow economically. This idea heightened because blacks had remained under the bondage of white power for decades, and this brought an opportunity to create their own standing (Wintz, 1998).
In addition, the Renaissance became more than just literary works, but, instead, it involved racial pride of the black roots. The idea of the “New Negro” encouraged the black people to use it as a platform to demand civil, as well as political rights. The success of the Renaissance appealed not only to the blacks, but also to the whites, who saw interracial couples performing. However, the Harlem Renaissance did not manage to break down the stiff laws of Jim Crow that kept the races separate. The Renaissance managed to encourage some relaxation in the racial attitudes, especially among the young whites, but it did not deter the laws of segregation. The greatest impact of this movement was the awakening of black pride on their race and courage to fight further towards achieving equality (McHenry, 2002).
The Civil Rights Era 1947-1968
The Civil Right Movement that began in late 1940s attracted mass protests against racial segregation and discrimination witnessed in the South. This movement bore its roots in earlier decades, as African Americans revolted against white supremacy that advocated for discrimination and segregation. The black people received civil rights after the Civil War through the passing of the Fourteenth and Fifteenth Amendment within the U.S. Constitution. The Civil Rights Movement aimed at foreseeing the securing and protection of these rights within the black community. The 1950s and 1960s civil rights movement understood that racial discrimination needed to be fought against in order to bring the equal rights legislation that had been denied to the black people (Hall, 2005, p. 1234).
A certain level of success was achieved through the civil rights with the passing of the Civil Rights Act in 1964, and then the Voting Rights Act in 1965. This destroyed the demeaning legislation that put blacks in bondage and delegated them to second class citizens. During the civil activists of the 1950s and 1960s both blacks and whites adopted nonviolent and civil disobedience to call for change in legislation. The improved Civil Rights Act of 1968 brought change in legislation that abolished segregation in any sector. The major African American activists that led the protests included Martin Luther King, Jr., Malcolm X, Andrew Goodman, and Rosa Parks among others (Hall, 2005, p. 1...
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