• Photo of cannon at Antietam National Battlefield

    The Civil War

Civil War to Civil Rights

Photo of African American man drinking from water fountain marked 'Colored.'

Though the Civil War began the movement to extend equality to African Americans, the promises of the 13th, 14th and 15th Amendments provide easier to accomplish in theory rather than in practice. The promising start towards racial equality soon faltered during the tensions of Reconstruction and laws were soon enacted across the country which enforced segregation of the races and the second-class status of African Americans.

Today, nearly 150 years since the end of the Civil War, people of all races, colors, creeds and beliefs continue the struggle to make America a nation where truly "all men are created equal."

Stories from Civil War to Civil Rights

Showing results 6-10 of 14

  • Gulf Islands National Seashore

    Exceeding Expectations

     Photo of African American soldier

    During the fight for freedom, African American soldiers were forced to deal with discrimination on a regular basis. For no other reason than possessing a different skin color, these men were perceived to be inferior troops. Yet over several fierce fights, men such as the Louisiana Native Guard proved their worth. Read more

  • Civil War Defenses of Washington

    Living Contraband - Former Slaves in the Nation's Capital During the Civil War

    Photo of three African American boys in a Union army camp

    For thousands of African Americans during the Civil War, Washington, D.C. was a beacon of freedom - and a place where they could work to assist the war effort. There they found themselves digging fortifications, driving wagons, or cooking, but as free men and women selling their services, many for the first time in their lives. Read more

  • Maggie L Walker National Historic Site

    Maggie L. Walker

    Portrait of Maggie L. Walker

    Maggie L. Walker led the African American community of Richmond, Virginia, in many aspects. She was involved in the struggle for civil rights and maintained her successful banking and newspaper businesses and charitable societies. Read more

  • Harpers Ferry National Historical Park

    Niagara Movement - Cornerstone of the Modern Civil Rights Movement

    Photo of Niagara Movement members, including W.E.B. DuBois (seated), at Niagara Conference in Harpers Ferry

    To combat the injustices of Jim Crow laws and legal segregation, W.E.B. Du Bois and other leading civil rights advocates created the Niagara Movement and held their first public meeting at Storer College in Harpers Ferry, West Virginia, invoking the spirit of John Brown. Read more

  • Reconstruction

    Picture depictsing former slaves and free blacks voting following the passage of the 15th amendment

    During Reconstruction, the Federal government pursued a program of political, social, and economic restructuring across the South-including an attempt to accord legal equality and political power to former slaves. Reconstruction became a struggle over the meaning of freedom, with former slaves, former slaveholders and Northerners adopting divergent definitions. Faced with increasing opposition by white Southerners and some Northerners, however, the government abandoned efforts for black equality in favor of sectional reconciliation between whites. Read more