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14th Amendment, Plessy V Ferguson Case: Review of African Americans' Path

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It is hard to imagine that the Republican party of today was once an advocate of the African American struggle for freedom and acceptance, but they were. Back then they were known as the radicals Republicans. After the Emancipation Act was a pass, new freedom given to a people who knew only slavery and people who knew only to be masters, chaos became the reality of their lives in the southern states. The difficulties of reconstruction for African Americans’ lives were now not only a political but also economic and social necessity.

The Reconstruction of the southern states was now necessary and the Republican party step in to bring servility to these states. Amendments were passed to expand the civil right of black Americans. According to the article Landmark Legislation, “The Thirteenth Amendment outlawing slavery, the fourteenth Amendment which guaranteed equal rights to all and citizenship for blacks and the fifteen Amendment prevent the race from being used to disenfranchise men.” (1)

After the civil war, African Americans enjoy a period when they could vote, participate in political processes, buy land of former owners seek employment use public accommodations. Politically under the 14th amendment men could vote. African American women became politically involve too. They were instrumental in the fight for the educational right for woman, woman suffrage, the fight for the abolishment of child labor. Churches were a community gathering place that encourages socialization for their free community. Opponents of this progress begun to find ways to interfere with the process, which led to the loss of many lives. The antagonistic attitude toward the African American newfound liberty was the precursor to the Jim crow law. There were state and local laws that enforced segregation in the south and were made all after the Reconstruction period and remain on the books until 1965.

The case Plessy v Ferguson, in 1896 came about after these laws were enacted that directly went up against the Fourteenth Amendment. Homer Plessy decided to test the constitutionality of the law when he sat in the white compartment of a train and was arrested. This case was tried in the Supreme Court where it was decided that separate but equal was constitutional if there was equality. This begun the ere of separate but equal which was the only law in words. African Americans endure years of discrimination under this law.

In the case of Justice Harlem Dissent, Plessy v Ferguson, “The law regard man as man and taken no account of his surroundings or his color when his civil rights as guaranteed by the supreme law of the land are involved…’ (2) The landmark decision of 1896 only give credence to the Jim Crow Law and it lasted many more years.

It is so hard to imagine a people who were once treated as less than a human being would play such an iatrical part in the history of this great country. Intellectually Men like Booker T Washington who were born in slavery and WEB DuBois who were born after slavery, their ideology was different over strategy moving forward. Booker was an educator, a reformer, and an influential black leader of his time He believes self-reliance servitude by accepting discrimination was ok as long as you prosper economically by working hard and can reduce anti-black violence, DuBois grew up free and did not experience the harshness of slavery. He was a philosopher unlike Booker, he believes that equality with white was very important. He also believes that economic growth was not secure without political power to safeguard it. (3a) one of their biggest disagreement was over black suffrage DuBois believes only educated black should vote and the equality with whites were necessary. Washington felt that DuBois’s belief on militant agitation would do more harm than good in the ongoing differences in the south between whites and black. (3b) The author Allen Ballard in the article The Education of Black Folks said, “While there were many differences points of contention between Washington and DuBois, there were similarities in their philosophies as well.” They both worked adamantly against lynching and opposed racially motivated violence… Though both men can be criticized on various aspects of their approaches both DuBois and Washington are a key figure in the advancement of African Americans.” Both embrace equality but took a different path.

We have a come l long way since the Reconstruction of the south but there is a facade of change that is still cover-up in separatism in America. After 1900 the south had Jim Crow legal regime of separation, but the remainder of the country had ghettos, redlining, local school districts, static racism, institutional racism, and gerrymandering to name a few. The outcry is still the same only with new voices ‘Black Lives Matter.’ African Americans are still disenfranchised people and the treatment toward then hasn’t changed a lot. Their lives politically socially and economically even after many years after the reconstruction days their lives are still being reconstructed.


  1. (3a,3b)
  2. Plessy v. Ferguson MR. JUSTICE HARLAN, dissenting.
  4. The United State Senate: Landmark Legislation: Thirteenth, Fourteenth, & Fifteenth Amendments

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14th Amendment, Plessy V Ferguson Case: Review Of African Americans’ Path. (2021, December 16). GradesFixer. Retrieved January 29, 2022, from
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