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This page aims to provide a historical timeline of major events during the post-American Civil War era that affected the educational system for African American students in the American South through 1929, as it relates to the storyline within the documentary, "Othello Wilson: Let Your Light Shine".

Thirteenth Amendment (Amendment XIII)

December 1865

At the conclusion of the Civil War, this Amendment was created to abolish the institution of slavery and involuntary servitude in the United States.

Reconstruction Period


After President Abraham Lincoln emancipated the approximately 4 million slaves in the Confederate States,  the attempt to rebuild the war torn states' operational, political, and social infrastructure commenced.

Black Codes (later known as Jim Crow laws)


The United States government had no clear plan in place for newly freed slaves, whose fate fell into the hands of the Confederate state governments, who ultimately established laws to regulate and restrict societal and physical movement of these new freedmen and their families.

Fourteenth Amendment (Amendment XIV)

July 1868

This amendment aimed to grant citizenship, and equal civil and legal rights to African Americans and emancipated slaves.

Fifteenth Amendment (Amendment XV)

February 1868

This amendment granted Afircan American men the right to vote by declaring that the "right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any state on account of race, color, or previous condition of servitude."

The Compromise of 1877


An agreement to settle the 1876 Presedential election which awarded the election to Rutherford B. Hayes.  Part of the agreement was the removal of U.S. government troops out of the Confederate states, that left former slaves and African Americans at greater risk to Black Codes and other discriminatory laws.

Plessy vs. Ferguson


Landmark case that challenged the 14th Amendment's 'separate but equal' clause, as to how it was applied to interstate transportation, or in this case, the segregation of passenger rail cars by race.   The United States Supreme Court ultimately decided that the amendment could not be applied to social rights, such as sitting in a railcar of your choice.  This decision made it easier for long established Black Codes,  to remain and to grow. These laws would spread and affect many institutions, including education, for many more decades.

The Great Depression

October 1929

This era signified an economic depression which originated in the United States and eventually spread worldwide.  The economy suffered due to reduced jobs and wages, and put a strain on the way of life for all Americans, but more so to African Americans.

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