After the emancipation of black slaves from bondage under the yoke of slavery, the United States witnessed a change in its social order as for the first time in history the federal government supported egalitarianism. Now, the liberation of persons of African descent came after the American Civil War of between 1861 and 1865 in which the anti-slavery Northerners won under the Union flag. As a result, the pro-slavery Southerners conformed to the abolition sentiments of the North simply because they lost the war and were in no way for the equality of races in the country. Accordingly, within five years after the Fourteenth Amendment to the American Constitution, the Southerners were already devising a system of governance that closely resembled the institution of slavery and the Black Codes were perfect for their agenda (Wallach, 2005, p.214). In that sense, Black Codes were the regulations placed on former slaves in the form of laws that the Southern government enacted during the Reconstruction period. While they granted African Americans the rights to marry legally within their racial boundaries and even own properties, they also disfranchised them by prohibiting their numbers from voting and participating in court processes (Foner, 2013, p.456). Extensively, under the Black Codes, the State government reserved the rights to arrest and hire out black people to white farmers as long as they failed to sign yearly contracts. Apparently, without the promise of work, the whites feared that the ex-slaves would turn to crime and become a menace in the communities.
Extensively, and as per the terms of the 1867 Reconstruction Act, the Republican governments were in power throughout the South. The governing Republicans went on to establish public school systems and enacted the Civil Rights of black people while aiding in the recovery of the region’s economy after the devastations of war (Foner, 2013, p.465). Meanwhile, black people were not dormant as they mobilized themselves under the favorable political environment to demand equality and the rights to the opportunities enjoyed by their white counterparts. As evidenced by the passing of the Civil Rights law and the emergence of black leadership in the regions, it is evident that the Union readmitted the South in exchange for complete control of its communities. After all, African Americans were holding office in areas that epitomized racism-based hostilities and for that reason alone, reconstruction efforts were for that period successful. In fact, black officeholders were not only at all levels of government but also had white allies that helped reinstate the law through the equal representation of all individuals regardless of race; thus making justice achievable for all (Foner, 2013, p.464).
Naturally, and as mentioned before, the American Civil War altered multiple spheres of the American societies as its people developed adaptation mechanisms to the changes that swept across the nation. One of the concerned fields was that of education as the cultural norms in the antebellum era dictated literacy as subject to Caucasians only and made formal education unavailable to black persons. Still, in the aftermath of the war, and at the heart of the pro-slavery Southern States, African Americans came together in 1867 and founded the Lincoln Normal School for the education of blacks in Alabama. A selected group of African Americans worked towards keeping the doors of the institution open but from the economic hindrances to the Southern whites’ decision to fight equality in society, the school barely survived its first year. To curb the unending uncertainties about the institution, the first black member of the State Board of Education, Peyton Finley, petitioned Congress to support black peoples’ education and in 1873, the efforts paid off as the public government gained rights to the Lincoln Normal School (History of Alabama State University, n.d). In other words, before the legislature granted the school with the go-ahead to educate pupils up to the University level, the facility came to be predominantly under its influence. In that sense, after the war, the African American populace that concentrated on the establishment and maintenance of the institution managed to keep the school open even through the reconstruction era.
Foner, E. (2013). Give Me Liberty!: An American History (4th ed., Vol. II). New York: W. W. Norton & Company.
History of Alabama State University. (n.d.). Retrieved from Alabama State University: http://www.lib.alasu.edu/archives/research/history/asu.html
Wallach, J. (2005). Black codes. In G. D. Jaynes (Ed.),Encyclopedia of African American society (Vol. 2, pp. 114-114). Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE Publications Ltd. doi: 10.4135/9781412952507.n84