What landmark federal laws affected African American Civil Rights from 1865 to 1992?I'm doing a presentation on federal laws and there are too many so I don't know which ones are important. I need...

What landmark federal laws affected African American Civil Rights from 1865 to 1992?

I'm doing a presentation on federal laws and there are too many so I don't know which ones are important. I need to research only those that had a significant impact on african american civil rights. Thank You

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saintfester | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Associate Educator

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The struggle for African-American civil rights began with the end of slavery in 1865 after the Civil War. The 13th Amendment to the Constitution abolished slavery, but left a lingering question; how to support newly-freed African American slaves? Congress, which at the time was controlled by the Republican Party, began passing legislation right away that helped support these “Freedman” as they tried to claim their newly won citizenship;

  • Freedman’s Bureau Bill – passed by congress in 1865. Created a federal agency that sent agents south to help African Americans with education, bargaining, health care and housing.
  • Civil Rights Act of 1866 – passed to counter-act southern Black Codes, which sought to deny African American men the right to vote.
  • 14th Amendment – passed in 1868. Expanded the definition of citizenship to help protect the civil rights of African Americans.
  • 15th Amendment – passed in 1870. Made it illegal to deny someone the right to vote on the basis of race, color or “previous servitude”

Republicans in congress where desperate to get former slaves voting, hoping it would guarantee the African Americans political power and Republicans more black votes. Republicans also tried to protect the lives of African Americans from militant southern whites with the Civil Rights Act of 1871.

As the nation grew tired of Reconstruction, southern Democrats began to take back power in the southern states. Soon, Democratic legislatures were passing segregationist laws that forced blacks out of schools, transportation and other parts of society. This came to a head in 1896 when the Supreme Court rules segregation to be legal in the landmark cast Plessy v. Ferguson.

The modern Civil Rights movement didn’t really begin until 1954 when black lawyers successfully dealt a blow to segregation in the south with a legal victory in Brown v. Board of Education, where segregation in schools was finally struck down.

From there, the Civil Rights movement fought against desegregation in all its forms. Whether it was Montgomery busses, Mississippi colleges or lunch counters in Virginia, Civil Rights workers sacrificed their bodies and freedom to bring attention to the issue of racial segregation. Their efforts were finally rewarded in 1964 with passage of the Civil Rights of Act of 1964, which effectively banned racial segregation in the U.S. This was followed up with the Voter Rights Act of 1965 that did away with racially bias polling tests and taxes.

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