A Battle for Equality

The Battle for Equality
On January 1st, 1863, President Abraham Lincoln presented the Emancipation Proclamation, which freed the slaves within the rebellious States that refused to return to the union. This proclamation would allow African American soldiers to fight for the union, and tie the issue of slavery directly to the war. Freedom meant many things to the emancipated African Americans. It gave them the right to come and go as they please, it meant no more family break-ups, when they worked it would be solely for their own benefit, and it put an end to sexual exploitation by slave owners. Most importantly of all, African Americans now had the right to an education to help themselves advance. But all of these things did not come easy or without cost. Angry white racist southerners would do anything within their power to undermine reconstruction. Following the Civil War and the Emancipation Proclamation, African Americans would undergo a long and hard fought battle against racism and segregation in order to establish themselves as equal citizens in the United States of America.  
African Americans were happy to be free, but they faced a difficult transition between the years 1865 to 1876. “The Emancipation Cause tradition interpreted the war as a struggle to liberate 4 million slaves and remove a cancerous influence on American society and politics…” (Gallagher, 2010, ¶ 1). Many had felt that emancipation happened because white people had recognized the error of their ways, and black people would be accepted as equal citizens and granted all of the rights and privileges that the white people had. This could not be any further from the truth. “It didn’t take long for the newly freed to realize very little had changed” (Chikwendu, 2000, ¶ 4). Most of the white folks in the postwar south found it difficult to conceive that African Americans possessed any more rights than they previously had as a slave, and refused to accept them as an equal. Although the freed...