How did white and black southerners react to Reconstruction?

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poetrymfa eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Reconstruction resulted in a point of conflict between black Southerners and white Southerners over what freedom itself means and entails. 

In the Reconstruction-era South, black Southerners immediately took the opportunity to make their newfound freedom meaningful by demanding civil and political rights, seeking economic independence, establishing schools and churches of their own, and reuniting families who had previously been separated when slavery reigned. 

White Southerners, however, were dismayed by the changes brought about by the emancipation of slaves and were smarting from the loss of loved ones in the Civil War; the ravaging of personal property during the fighting had only added insult to injury. A new pride and nostalgia for the "Old South" and the "Lost Cause of the Confederacy" was born, with white Southerners choosing to erect monuments and build cemeteries dedicated to the Confederate forces. Some Southerners left the South altogether, while less passive individuals began to incite violence out of their bitterness; they also built factions which would further promote racism (such as the Ku Klux Klan). Otherwise, any Southerners who approved of the Reconstruction policies were belittled as "scalawags." 

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