The Challenges African Americans Faced in America Essay

The Challenges African Americans Faced In America Raymon Rice ETH125 March 11, 2012 The Challenges African Americans Faced In America African Americans had a turbulent history in the United States ever since they were brought to the country as slaves. “Slavery in America began when the first African slaves were brought to the North American colony of Jamestown, Virginia, in 1619, to aid in the production of such lucrative crops as tobacco. (Slavery in America, 2012) During the 17th and 18th centuries, slavery was practiced throughout most of the American colonies. Slavery in America, date). During these times, the amount of slaves that were brought to America enormous and could possibly be near the 10 million mark in the 16th century. “Why did European settlers need slaves to begin with? ” Well, these settlers thought that slaves could be a “cheaper, more plentiful source of organized labor than poorer Europeans. ” (Slavery in America, 2012) Some of the duties of slave were to work as sharecroppers by harvesting crops on farms owned by their respective owners.

Some of the crops these slaves had to pick were cotton, tobacco, rice, beans, and indigo. African slaves had no rights of their own and were considered to be property of their owners. Slaves were forbidden to learn how to read or write, leave their owner’s vicinity with the owner’s permission, or to refuse to complete any orders from their owners. If a slave decided to rebel, stand up to their owners, or fail to complete a task, the slave would be severely punished by being physical beaten, sexually abused, or have their family members sold to other slave owners.

Slaves were treated this way for a number of decades and eventually become an inflammatory issue between the northern and southern states, which would lead to the Civil War. During the war, President Abraham Lincoln had a view that slaves should be free to live their own lives. President Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation in an effort to abolish slavery nationwide. After the Civil War was over, it did not end the oppression of African Americans.

For a number of decades following the war, African Americans will face a tremendous amount of racism, prejudice and oppression from White Americans. It was not until the 1960s, during the Civil Rights Movement, did African Americans receive a breakthrough in civil liberties. There were a number of laws and legislation in which constricted the rights of African Americans in the United States. One of the early acts that promoted slavery during the 19th century was the Kansas-Nebraska Act. This decision stated that each new territory would be open to slavery. The Kansas-Nebraska Act opened all new territories to slavery by asserting the rule of popular sovereignty over congressional edict, leading pro- and anti slavery forces to battle it out (with much bloodshed) in the new state of Kansas (Slavery in America, 2012) In 1857, the Missouri Compromise was repealed by the U. S. Supreme Court and this allowed every territory to be open to slavery. Another piece of legislation that limited the rights of African Americans after slavery was officially abolished was the Jim Crow laws.

Jim Crow laws, also known as “The Black Codes” were laws in the South that discriminated against African Americans by restricting their basic freedoms and imposed segregation and voter oppression. Because of the Jim Crow laws, African Americans were given an extremely limited amount of freedom. (Peoples, 2008) African Americans could not choose the type of work they wanted to do, were not allowed to own their own farms or land, could not own a firearm, were unable to testify in court, and had to use separate facilities from Whites. Peoples, 2008) These laws were functional for a century after the Emancipation Proclamation went into effect after the Civil War. Fortunately in our nation’s history, there were a few laws that were aimed to free African Americans from oppression and give them the rights they deserve to have. One of the first major acts that gave slaves their first taste of freedom was the Emancipation Proclamation. This act occurred during the presidency of Abraham Lincoln. The 13th, 14th, and 15th amendments were the constitutional amendments that gave African Americans a new start in life.

The 13th Amendment abolished slavery; the 14th amendment gave former slaves rights of citizenship and equal protection under the U. S. Constitution, and the 15th amendment gave former slaves the right to vote. (Slavery in America, 2012) It would not be for another hundred years after the Civil War until the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights of 1965 was passed by the U. S. Congress. These two laws were a direct response to the Civil Rights Movement during the 1950s and early 1960s. Such movements have not only secured citizenship right’s for blacks but have also redefined prevailing conceptions of the nature of civil rights and the role of government in protecting these rights. (Civil Rights Movement, 2012) The Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965 did more for minorities and women by providing them a voice against discrimination. References Civil Rights Movement. (2012). The History Channel website. Retrieved 2:58, March 12, 2012, from http://www. history. com/topics/civil-rights-movement.

Peoples, K. (2008). The History of The Black Codes of 1865 Read more at Suite101: The History of The Black Codes of 1865: Jim Crow Laws Kept African American New-Found Freedoms Out of Reach | Suite101. com http://kristin-peoples. suite101. com/the-history-of-the-black-codes-of-1865-a83462#ixzz1osqSTSIr. Retrieved from http://kristin-peoples. suite101. com/the-history-of-the-black-codes-of-1865-a83462 Slavery in America. (2012). The History Channel website. Retrieved 3:00, March 12, 2012, from http://www. history. com/topics/slavery.