Reconstruction paved the way for the Civil Rights Movement.
The Reconstruction Era was a period of positive radical change. In a few years, black Americans went from being enslaved to having representation in government and building their own economies. The Civil Rights Act of 1866 as well as the 14th and 15th Amendments were passed guaranteeing equal rights for black men. Remember, women did not yet have the right to vote. Ultimately, white violence and government apathy ended Reconstruction and ushered in an era of racial terror and violence. Reconstruction’s legacy, however, remained extremely important. It laid the groundwork for what we now call the Civil Rights Movement.
History repeats itself.
In many ways, the modern history of North Carolina mirrors that of Reconstruction. From 2000 to 2010, thanks to relentless community organizers and thoughtful public servants, North Carolina implemented a number of reforms to increase civic participation including same day registration, pre-registration for teens, and easier access to early and absentee voting. These changes were extremely successful. Between 2000 and 2012, black voter turnout increased by 65%. This all changed in 2013, when a new government not only gutted these reforms but also passed further restrictions to voting. Just as in the era after Reconstruction, however, all hope has not been lost. In the way that the taste of economic opportunity and lasting legislation during Reconstruction sparked a Civil Rights Movement in the 1950s, increased black civic participation in North Carolina has given birth to the Moral Monday Movement, which is pushing back against these unjust voting restrictions.