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To what extent had the situation for black people in America improved by 1900?

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Introduction

24/09/05 To what extent had the situation for black people in America improved by 1900? The situation for black people in America underwent a huge improvement after their emancipation, but by 1900, due to segregation laws and discrimination in general, life was still very difficult for black people. A common black American saying, 'We ain't what we ought to be, we ain't what we going to be. But thank God we ain't what we used to be.', was how they summed up the situation for themselves. By 1900, the black people of America had many more opportunities than pre-1865, but there was still a long way to go before they gained equality with whites. They had poor jobs, poor pay and were generally treated as some kind of a subspecies by whites. On the positive side, black people were no longer slaves to white people. In 1865, after president Lincoln's death and the end of the civil war, slavery was abolished. The former slaves now had the freedom to travel, and therefore to find work, and to set up a home. ...read more.

Middle

Reconstruction had therefore failed to give blacks any lasting political improvement. Even though slavery had been abolished, Southerners still kept hold of their previous beliefs and prejudices. They were frightened of blacks gaining equality and of miscegenation. Even though freed black slaves had gained the freedom to travel, due to their lack of wealth, many could not afford to travel to the industrialised North in search of work. Most of them remained in the South of America, which was economically substantially behind the North, and farmed as tenants under whites. Blacks that did go North suffered racial discrimination in their search for work (and most other areas); if a black man were better educated and qualified for the job than a white man, the latter would still get the job purely because of the colour of his skin. Blacks were often exploited by businessmen; they were paid low wages and often used as strike breakers. Black people even had to pay higher rent than whites for the same apartments; they were restricted to housing within the black ghetto where rents were higher. ...read more.

Conclusion

No legal protection or support existed for black people, especially in the South, where tension was more prevalent and hostility more common. In conclusion, by 1900, black people theoretically had the freedom to work and build lives for themselves, but realistically their opportunities were limited and they faced much discrimination and (especially in the South) hostility from whites. They had to tolerate de facto discrimination in the North, and de jure in the South, which undid most of what Reconstitution had done; they were still seen as a subspecies not fit to mix with white people. The political rights that they had been given were trampled on in the South, who ignored the US constitution with the knowledge of the Supreme Court. They therefore had little government support or protection, and, in the South, unsatisfactory representation. Compared to when they were enslaved, their situation had improved, but life in America for a black person was extremely hard, and there was a long struggle ahead for equality with whites. ?? ?? ?? ?? ...read more.

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