Massacre in North Carolina (05:03)
Reconstruction had been overthrown by the 1890s, but there was still hope in Wilmington, North Carolina, where a large, black middle class prospered for a time. A coalition of blacks and whites provided and alternate to the Democrats, but “negro rule” was overthrown by the bloody Wilmington insurrection of 1898.
Revisionist History (06:29)
The 44th Congress included seven black house members and a black senator in 1875. George Henry White, the last black congressman of the Reconstruction era, stepped down in 1901. “The Lost Cause” became the ideological justification for white supremacy.
Monuments to White Supremacy (03:23)
The Confederate Memorial Monument was installed in Montgomery, Alabama in 1898, three years before the state disenfranchised black voters. Black Americans have lived with such haunting reminders of their oppression for more than a century. Only recently has a debate over whether they should exist taken place.
Racist Propaganda Prevails (05:27)
Revisionist historians painted a nostalgic picture of plantation life that ignored the torture, rape, and murder that accompanied slavery. Blacks were portrayed as dimwitted and subhuman in popular publications, advertisements and minstrel shows. The term Jim Crow came from a popular minstrel character.
Dignified Imagery (03:04)
Black Americans would find ways to combat racist imagery. Activist Frederick Douglass saw photography as a way for blacks to reclaim their image. Professor William Edward Burghardt Dubois was asked to help curate an exhibit on African-Americans at the 1900 Paris Exposition.
Iconic Intellectual and Activist (03:33)
The Paris Exposition was just the beginning for Dubois, the first black person to earn a Ph. D from Harvard University. Show host Henry Louis Gates interviews fellow scholar Cornel West about the legacy of Dubois and his signature work, “The Souls of Black Folk.”
New Negroes (02:57)
Dubois became a leading figure of a generation of African-Americans that came of age during the rise of Jim Crow. Dubois promoted the idea of the “talented tenth,” the 10 percent of blacks that had a social and economic responsibility to lift up everyone else.
"Coon Songs" (06:09)
African-Americans gave birth to musical forms that are fundamental to America’s national identity. Many black composers gained exposure through racist turn-of-the-century musical trends. Bert Williams and other black performers put on minstrel shows, satirizing white people who made fun of them.
Competing Theories of Advancement (06:03)
Booker T. Washington preached that blacks should make themselves useful through manual labor. Dubois and newspaper publisher William Monroe Trotter represented a class of African-Americans that refuted the idea that the only way forward was through subservience. The duo started the Niagara Movement.
Woodrow Wilson (03:38)
“The Crisis,” founded by Dubois, was a monthly publication that chronicled black achievement, laid out the goals of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, and agitated for social justice. Black voters put their misguided hopes in a Democratic presidential candidate.
Racist Box Office Smash (05:32)
President Wilson confirmed his reputation as an unreconstructed southerner as he screened “The Birth of a Nation” at the White House in 1915. The film was a pioneering artistic achievement, but it also popularized white supremacist “Lost Cause” propaganda like never before.
Unfinished Revolution (03:04)
Reconstruction failed to remake American society on the basis of equality. Generations that followed kept on fighting for equal rights for black Americans.
Credits: Reconstruction: America After the Civil War—Episode 4 (01:01)
Credits: Reconstruction: America After the Civil War—Episode 4
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