Perspectives on History


Chapter 2

The civil war is over; the Union army defeats the militant, defiant Confederacy. Our agenda at this time was to embrace the citizens of the south back into our country, the way it was before the war. Even though the northern forces won, they felt obligated to rebuild what has been destroyed physically, economically and culturally. Reprobation’s came though in what is called reconstruction. Northerners could send money to finance their economy, send men to rebuild their homes, however the problem of what too do with the former Afro-American slaves was a more complicated issue. Many ideas where being thrown around; educated a percentage of them; train them to learn a task; send them back to Africa; boycotts and other militant thinking, even though the subject was being looked at from many angles controversy followed as well.

Ida Bell Wells was born as a slave in Holly Springs, Mississippi, after emancipation her parents raised enough money too sends her to a Freedman’s school. Her ideas on Afro-American’s during reconstruction were too hit the white southern population in their economy though railroad boycotts . “The white man’s dollar is his god, and to stop this will be to stop the outrages in many localities.”(36) She also stated a slightly more radical approach of stockpiling firearms; these would be used in the threat of lynching which was rampant at the time. “A Winchester rifle should have a place of honour in every black home, and it should be used for that protection which the law refuses to give.”(38) Her idea of boycotting the railroads was the more civil, hence logical approach. This created a huge loss for the RR corporations at the time. However, preaching of gun ownership will do nothing but create more violence, also would perpetuate and justify the ignorance and senseless lynching of the times.

“No race can prosper till it learns that there is as much dignity in tilling a field as in writing poetry”(40). Booker T Washington stated this quote in the company of many important business leaders and politicians during the Atlanta exposition address. Booker starting at the age of seventeen worked his way through the Hampton Institute as a Janitor. He believed Afro-American’s should learn a trade such as carpentry, metal work, or farming. He thought his people should have to start at the bottom and work their way up to the top. His ideas where very practical; the south at the time required a lot of skilled laborer’s since so many young men have died or lost limbs detrimental to manual labor. Selling the point of learning a trade for Afro-Americans was a way of flooding the southern labor force with his people, creating economic opportunity will give later generation’s of African American’s chances for higher education or elected office. However the down side to this would be exploitation, whites might see an opportunity settling to make Afro-American’s permanent second class citizens.

Henry Mcneal Turner was a self-educated and freeborn African American preacher for the African Methodist Episcopal church. His ideas were for the ex-slaves to move back to their “fatherland” of Africa. He explains that the Afro-Americans in the country will never be seen as an equal to the white man. Even in other lands at the time, such as the West Indies, South America, and parts of Spain there was racial tension. He goes on to explain that even the literal meaning of black means such things as corrupt, satanic while the for white such adjectives are virtue and purity. How can his people find any common ground with Whites when it’s imbedded in their books and thoughts as them being evil and corrupt. Turner also sees even the educated Afro-Americans try to identify their image as white, by using clothes and proper language. There is no other alternative but to go back to Africa and rebuild the place into a great empire using the same skills and work ethic they used to build America. Africa however is a far-fetched idea because of the fact that Afro-American’s built this country and they don’t want to leave it behind for their oppressors to benefit from. However, moving the black labor force away from this country might be interesting. The