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Were African Americans free during Reconstruction?

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During Reconstruction, African Americans were freed from formal slavery, however, they still faced endemic discrimination and structural limitations on their freedom.

For instance, the Black Codes were a series of discriminatory laws enacted by Southern states in the aftermath of the Civil War. They enumerated a variety of petty offenses that, in practice, applied only to African Americans. Violation of these laws were penalized through convict labor in which prisoners would be leased to private companies— often in agriculture—for field work. This essentially perpetuated an informal type of slavery.

Finally, many Southern...

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