Several institutions helped African Americans come together during the Reconstruction period of American History. The church has long been an important part of the black experience in America, as demonstrated by Martin Luther King Jr. during the Civil Rights period. However, long before him, the church acted as a place of safety where black individuals could come together and show emotional and spiritual support for one another. Churches also doubled as places where people could discuss community issues and political topics. Education was made available to African Americans through the efforts of the Freedmen’s Bureau and various organizations based in the north. They helped fund schools where African Americans could learn basic skills such as reading or writing. Some schools also focused on trade skills that black Americans could use to make a living.