Turn of the Century Politics: African American Oppression and Power in Farmers

Essay by zachjarouUniversity, Bachelor's July 2004

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African Americans have been oppressed since their first encounter with the white man. For hundreds of years, African Americans served as slaves for American plantation owners. Finally, after the Civil War and the Emancipation Proclamation they were finally free. However this freedom did not guarantee them easy assimilation into American society. Several Civil Rights laws were passed, including that of 1875 which stated, "That all persons within the jurisdiction of the United States shall be entitled to the full and equal enjoyment of the accommodations ... applicable alike to citizens of every race and color, regardless of any previous condition of servitude." This put African Americans on an equal playing field however in 1883 the Supreme Court ruled it unconstitutional based on the fact that it can't determine the conduct of individuals. In 1896, the Supreme Court ruled that "separate but equal" public facilities were constitutional in Plessy v. Ferguson.

This led to segregation and further stopped African American advancement. It would not be until 1945, in the case of Brown vs. Board of Education, that "separate but equal" facilities were found a violation of the Fourteenth Amendment, separation by race. The Fifteenth Amendment also had a positive future. In 1870, it was ruled that "the right of citizens to vote shall not be denied by the United States or by any State on account of race, color, or previous condition of servitude." Many times though, blacks were kept away from ballots by force or intimidation. However in the 1890s, states began voter registration restriction such as literacy tests, poll taxes, and the grand father clause. Now, African Americans were stopped at the registration office, rather than the ballot box. In 1909, several blacks formed the NAACP, National Association for the Advancement of Colored People; they used this...