Brief Moment in the Sun (03:06)
The 1880s were a bridge between Reconstruction and the implementation of Jim Crow. Ida B. Well was denied access to the all-white, first-class car on a train trip, which inspired her to become a civil rights activist.
Labor Exploitation (04:54)
Atlanta editor Henry Grady traveled the U.S., selling a vision of the South that ignored the plight of black southerners. Black sharecroppers went into debt after signing dubious contracts. Those who wound up in prison were forced to work for free under the convict leasing system.
Exoduster Movement (03:30)
After Reconstruction, Southern blacks had to choose between staying and living in oppressive conditions or finding a way out. Many saw Kansas as a place where they could support their families, free from violence and oppression. It was the first large migration of freed black people.
Civil Rights Cases (02:46)
Civil Rights Act of 1875 banned racial discrimination in public accommodations, but the Supreme Court deemed that law unconstitutional in 1883. The Court ruled that the Fourteenth Amendment did not prevent business owners from denying black people access to hotels and restaurants.
When African-Americans learned they could not cross the color line, they turned inward to create a black world within a white one. Madison Park and other all-black communities continued to prosper into the 20th century.
Multiracial Cooperatives (08:38)
Organizing workers along class lines instead of racial ones was revolutionary, especially in the Jim Crow South. The Populist Party presented the largest third-party challenge in American history. Democrats used a variety of tactics to undermine its gains and to disenfranchise blacks.
Scientific Racism (03:41)
Theories regarding the biological inferiority of black people were ubiquitous, from popular culture to academia. White supremacists policed the color line with vigilante violence.
National Lynching Memorial (03:40)
Gates visits the National Memorial for Peace and Justice. He meets Bryan Stevenson of the Equal Justice Initiate to discuss how the victims of white mob violence are commemorated there. Teachers, clergymen, and other people participated in acts of racist murder and torture.
People's Grocery Lynchings (06:59)
An emerging black press helped change the narrative presented by white, 19th century newspapers. Wells quit her job as a teacher to chronicle her fight against Jim Crow. She became co-owner of the "Free Speech" newspaper, but she left Memphis after covering an infamous hate crime.
Black Activists in White City (04:38)
Wells seized the Chicago World’s Fair of 1893 as a platform for her activism. Wells and Frederick Douglass fought back after organizers refused to give them a space to speak on the advances made by black Americans.
Preaching Economic Independence (04:39)
Tuskegee Institute leader Booker T. Washington promoted the idea that an industrial education would translate into black property ownership and entrepreneurship. He gave one of his most famous addresses at the Atlanta Cotton Exposition, signaling a profound change of course.
Plessy v. Ferguson (03:46)
The Supreme Court ruled that it was legal for the state of Louisiana to require blacks and whites to travel in separate railroad cars. The landmark decision established the principle of “separate but equal.” White supremacists had won.
Credits: Reconstruction: America After the Civil War—Episode 3 (01:01)
Credits: Reconstruction: America After the Civil War—Episode 3
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