Shaping the Future
After slavery had been abolished, at the end of the civil war, African American citizens were given what appeared to be opportunities. They could now own land, work for money, move, and do many other things that being a slave in the south had stripped from them. Unfortunately what they were about to experience was not a time of prospering but a time of hate and segregation. Poll taxes made voting almost impossible, using land involved insane contracts that included yielding 50% of their income, the lynching of innocent people was a common occurrence, the separate but equal mentality rotted the nation's mind and segregation was legalized in a famous supreme court case. Although slavery was abolished, African Americans were far from free. These inequalities would take many decades of dedication and commitment to unravel, and although these mentalities have diminished and are no longer this extreme, we can see they still hold a place in society. These issues may seem like problems of the past, but they actually impose many problems today as well. It is our duty as citizens to never allow this time in American history to repeat itself. We have seen the misery it causes and how unjust these actions are. We cannot change the past, but we can learn from it. By examining the use of Sharecroppers, for example, by white landowners, we can see how they exploited certain injustices among the lower class, particularly newly freed slaves. By taking advantage of their limited education they would sign them into extended contracts they couldn’t even read. Some of the fine print within these contracts included interest rates of 70% and a mandatory crop grant of 50% back to these landowners, leaving these workers with little to nothing. This was essentially a permanent endowment to their landlords, very few could profit from this and would fall behind quickly financially making them essentially slaves once again. These historical wrongs do impose a responsibility on all of us, to make sure that this past does not shape and reflect our future in the same way.