9-12 U.S. History Virginia

African American Voices and Reconstruction

This inquiry leads students to examine the ways that African Americans were leading voices in an ongoing effort to guarantee equal rights and freedoms for all people in the United States. Contrary to the oft repeated narrative that the US Government benevolently granted freedoms to African Americans, the questions, tasks, and sources in this inquiry ask students to look at ways African Americans were active leaders in working for those rights and freedoms. The tasks completed under each supporting question help the student to investigate the scope and depth of the African American voices working towards equal rights before the Civil War through the Reconstruction and after.  Students will learn of federal government actions taken to support the voices working for rights and freedoms as well as actions taken against those efforts.   An analysis of sources help students to investigate the economic, political and social gains African Americans made during and after Reconstruction.  Students will also look at the efforts that former Confederate states took to limit African American rights that had been guaranteed them by the US Constitution. By completing this inquiry, students will gain a deeper understanding that hard-won rights and freedoms can still be denied if the power to enforce them is held by someone else.