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To what extent were 1880-1917 decades of disappointment for African Americans?

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´╗┐Matthew Daniels6WO224/09/12 To what extent were the years 1880 - 1917 'decades of disappointment' for African Americans? When Lincoln issued the Emancipation proclamation in 1863, African Americans believed they were on the road to equality and freedom, as they were now liberated and free of their slave owners. However, not even the African Americans themselves could have foreseen the challenges that would face them during the years up to 1917. Legislation change and the problems with legislation severely weakened the rights of black people; and the rise of white supremacy only added to the disappointment of the life as an African American. This is why many historians such as Vivienne Sanders have described the years between 1880-1917 as the ?decades of disappointments?, as she believes that, ?much of the promise of the 1860s was not fulfilled?. However, it could be argued that the emergence of key civil rights activists undoubtedly made these years prosperous for African Americans. Booker T. Washington and William Du Bois certainly put the argument of civil rights for African Americans firmly on the map, resulting in these years being encouraging for blacks instead of being disappointing. It could be argued that in fact the years of 1880-1917 were ones of disappointment for African Americans due to the problems with and the change in key pieces of civil rights legislation. ...read more.


The violent atrocities that it committed were unprecedented and were directed not only at black people, but also at anyone who supported them or furthered their course; consequently people were forced into a state of fear of the KKK, and so all support for civil rights for African Americans were quickly rescinded. Even when the KKK was outlawed, racist violence was still rampant, which is why these years were the decades of disappointments for African Americans. Many black people suffered or died as a result of lynching, which surprisingly the authorities did nothing about. In reference to Booker T. Washington who was an activist for black civil rights, Vivienne Sanders states that ?many whites resented and loathed him?, which supports this idea of white supremacy being clearly evident during this time period. It appeared that everybody was against African Americans, and nobody would do anything to help them. Discrimination towards them even got to a stage where merely whistling or looking at a white woman was sufficient to arouse the wrath of the white people. Even if the discrimination was blatant, many whites found ways to trick African Americans, which adds to this idea of these years being the decades of disappointments. ...read more.


blacks to do well in life and rise above the white supremacy that was present, as well as enabling discriminatory legislation to be removed, which improved the rights and freedoms of African Americans. In conclusion, I firmly believe that the years of 1880-1917 were decades of disappointment for African Americans. I believe this to be the case, because by 1917 the majority of African Americans endured poverty and discrimination as well as continually being exploited. Once more, although the Fourteenth and Fifteenth Amendments remained intact, ?Jim Crow? laws in the south were upheld, even though the NAACP appealed against them being unconstitutional. The NAACP provided some change, but not enough to make the African American?s life not one of disappointment. They meant that civil rights now had organised pressure groups to ensure it became a political issue; but the election of Woodrow Wilson in 1912 was a further setback for African Americans. Coming from the South, he supported segregation and removed African Americans from government positions. Therefore, the years of 1880-1917 were decades of disappointment for African Americans, because after the hope and promise that the 1860s provided (most notably the Emancipation Proclamation), there was no progress in civil rights for African Americans and the rise in white supremacy added to this disappointment. ...read more.

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