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I'm working on crisping out the Reconstruction period so anything on that in terms of economic, social, political and educational improvements/non-improvements for my topic below: Please provide me with detail and events to support my answer to 'How far did the lives of African Americans improve 1865-1980?'

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Per the second part of your question, this answer will focus on the Reconstruction period. This saw the demise of slavery and the establishment (however brief) of political rights for African-Americans. What it did not witness was any sustained program to improve the economic challenges faced by former slaves, and of course, it should be noted that Reconstruction ended with the rise of Jim Crow society. But Reconstruction should not be viewed as a total failure. For the first time, blacks began to attend schools, including public schools. Black colleges began to spring up, many started by Freedmen's Bureau workers. They began to form communities in cities throughout the South that became vibrant economic and cultural centers. Some moved west and north in search of economic opportunity, an option far more difficult to pursue before emancipation.  Again, these gains were always achieved in the context of extreme white opposition, and by the later years of Reconstruction, with the federal government losing interest in the project, the cause of equality suffered major setbacks. But it was a historical moment in which many African-Americans were able to grasp freedoms that their ancestors could have only dreamed of. 

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