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Reconstruction: The Vote – Black History in Two Minutes (or So)

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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.

Senator Hiram Revels
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 office holders
Tragically, Gates explains, “the momentum wouldn’t last.” In 1901, Congressman George Henry White was the last Black politician to serve at the national level for a generation:

“Black men were denied access to the ballot box and the rights they were granted at the start of the Reconstruction period slowly diminished.”

44th Congress
Lawyer and professor KimberlΓ© Crenshaw and professor Khalil Gibran Muhammad provide additional context.

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.”

Find more American history on their YouTube channel, Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and at their site: Black History In Two Minutes.

Reconstruction: 1863-1877
Related reading at Wikipedia: African American United States Representatives and Senators.

Also: A Visual Timeline of Reconstruction: 1863-1877 and The first Black U.S. senator lived an extraordinary life.

Then watch these videos on TKSST next:
β€’Β The exceptional life of Benjamin Banneker
β€’ The historic 1913 women’s suffrage march on Washington D.C.
β€’Β Rare 1920s films of All-Black Towns β€œLiving the American Dream,” filmed by Solomon Sir Jones
β€’ Juneteenth, the 155th anniversary Google Doodle narrated by LeVar Burton
β€’Β How Grownups Vote, a clip from Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood

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