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. Sadly, this progress was short-lived.
Black men were denied access to the ballot box and the rights they were granted at the start of the Reconstruction period slowly diminished. In result, a Black presence in Congress was completely eradicated by 1901, and it would take a full generation for it to be restored. In this episode of Black History in Two Minutes or So, we’ll discuss the African-American achievements in the political system that were systematically overturned.
Robert F. Smith
Henry Louis Gates Jr.
Archival Materials Courtesy of:
Archives and Records Services Division, Mississippi Department of Archives and History ASSOCIATED PRESS Brady-Handy photograph collection, Library of Congress, Prints & Photographs Division Cook Collection, The Valentine Everett Collection, Inc. Getty Images Library of Congress Prints & Photographs Division National Records and Archives Administration The Oklahoma Historical Society Sadie Dayton Photography U.S. Senate Collection Virginia State University Special Collections and Archives.
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