With the exception of a short time during Reconstruction, life for African Americans in the South did not change that much, particularly in the economic and political realms.
Politically and economically, African Americans remained very much marginalized. There were, of course, some African Americans who participated in the Reconstruction governments. However, this did not last long at all. Within two decades, blacks would be essentially disenfranchised and have little more in the way of political rights than when they were enslaved. Economically, African Americans remained on the very bottom. Most blacks were sharecroppers or tenant farmers. They were often indebted to the extent that they were essentially tied to the land on which they worked.
Socially, there were some real changes. Most importantly, African Americans were free. They were able to keep their families together without fear of being sold. African American women were no longer subject to the sexual whims of their owners. African Americans were able to start creating their own vibrant communities in ways that had not been possible under slavery.