What is the era in African- American history that takes place after slavery and before the Civil Rights era called?

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Ashley Kannan | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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In any historical scholarship, different labels are applied to convey the same reality.  In this particular, case, we are looking for the interim period between the ending of the Civil War and institutional slavery and the establishment of the Civil Rights Era.

One particular label for this period in American History is "Reconstruction."  The nation struggled to reconstruct its own identity after the brutality of the Civil War.  African- Americans were reconstructing their own identity.  Lost was the forceful servitude so associated with slavery. However, in reconstructing their own identities, African- Americans encountered many fundamental challenges.  Reconstruction is the name given to this particular era of American History:  

After the Union victory over the Confederacy, a brief period of southern black progress, called Reconstruction, followed. During the Reconstruction the entire face of the south changed because the remaining states were readmitted into the Union. From 1865 to 1877, under protection of Union troops, some strides were made toward equal rights for African-Americans. Southern black men began to vote and were elected to the United States Congress and to local offices such as sheriff.

Thus, we can suggest that one term for the era in African- American history that takes place after slavery and before the Civil Rights one was called Reconstruction.

Another term that can be given to the era that takes place after slavery and before the Civil Rights era could be the "Jim Crow Era."  One of the results of Reconstruction was that many Southern states passed laws and regulations that significantly sought to limit the rights of newly enfranchised African- Americans.  These laws became known as Jim Crow laws because they enforced segregation as the law of the Southern land.  Jim Crow laws embraced the condition of "separate, but equal."  In the landmark case of Plessy v. Ferguson, the Supreme Court affirmed Jim Crow segregation as being deemed as acceptable under the United States Constitution.  Jim Crow was the term that extended to both the legal practice of segregation in the South and its more covert form in the North, where African- Americans were fundamentally kept separate from White Americans through social practices and attitudes. The "Jim Crow Era" helped to illuminate how the struggle towards identity and understanding was not immediate after the Civil War and the end of slavery.  It was an era that outlined the barriers and obstacles that the Civil Rights Movement sought to overcome.

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