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3: Experiments in Civil Rights

How the Supreme Court failed to protect Black Americans’ hard-won rights of citizenship during Reconstruction.


Episode Notes

In Episode 3 of Reconstruction, Rebecca Onion and Jamelle Bouie explore the legacy of the Civil Rights Act of 1875. They talk about how the idea of American citizenship changed after the end of slavery, when freed people tried to assert their hard-won rights and white people sought to re-establish a caste system based on race. Their guest is Aderson François, a professor of law at Georgetown and director of the Institute for Public Representation’s civil rights law clinic.

Supplementary reading for this episode:
An excerpt from Heather Andrea Williams’ Self-Taught: African American Education in Slavery and Freedom.

About the Show

The era of Reconstruction that followed the Civil War was our best chance to build an American democracy grounded in racial equality. Its failure helps explain why race, “states’ rights,” and the legacy of the Confederacy remain central themes in our politics today.

Don’t miss Rebecca and Jamelle’s previous podcast, The History of American Slavery.

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