After the Civil War, the Reconstruction era brought about hope and change in the form of citizenship and equality in America. Black men were given the right to vote, and in 1870, Hiram Revels became the first African American in the U.S. Congress when he was elected to represent Mississippi in the Senate. What followed included more than 2,000 Black office holders serving at every level of America’s political system.
This is an episode of Black History in Two Minutes (or So), an award-winning series of concise, fact-filled stories from United States history. In it, Harvard historian Henry Louis Gates Jr. introduces the Reconstruction-era shifts toward equality in America.
He also highlights some of the Black men who held offices during that time: Senator Hiram Revels, Congressman Joseph Rainey, Senator Blanche Bruce, Congressman John Roy Lynch, Congressman Robert Smalls, and Congressman Josiah Walls, to name a few.
“In 1867 alone, over 80% of all of the Black men in the former confederate states registered to vote.”
“Black men were denied access to the ballot box and the rights they were granted at the start of the Reconstruction period slowly diminished.”
Co-produced with Gates, Black History in Two Minutes (or So) was launched by tech entrepreneur and philanthropist Robert F. Smith “to help preserve the African American experience and democratize online learning sources.”
Then watch these videos on TKSST next:
• The exceptional life of Benjamin Banneker
• The historic 1913 women’s suffrage march on Washington D.C.
• Rare 1920s films of All-Black Towns “Living the American Dream,” filmed by Solomon Sir Jones
• Juneteenth, the 155th anniversary Google Doodle narrated by LeVar Burton
• How Grownups Vote, a clip from Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood
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