Slavery and servitude was all they had ever known.
The outcome of that was many Blacks sought to recreate their lives in freedom. Some found the means to open up a business or work as a free labourer. That did not mean however, the people of Southern states accepted them as their equals. Even though many Blacks sought to live a free life and in practical aspects they did, they were also forced to deal with segregation. White people who were angry about the abolition of slavery (especially in the Southern states) declared that Black people could only enter certain shops, streets, and they had to attend their own schools. They were often detained and held for questioning by prejudiced officials even in Northern towns (Volo &. Volo, 2007).
Black people sought to try and live their lives with as much dignity as possible, but they faced many barriers as a direct result of emancipation. The old prejudices that ran deep in American society were not going to be erased so easily, and the practical matter of integrating Black people into American society would take well over a century. As a result, many Black people remained extremely poor. They also faced lynchings, angry mobs and outright prejudice in many aspects of their lives. The people of the Southern states felt that abolition of slavery had been forced on them, and they were not going to be forced into integration. As a result of emancipation, Black people were free. They were not equal and would not be for a long time.
In the period of 1877-1920 America moved through what some historians refer to as ‘The Gilded Age’. It was a period of tremendous economic growth and technological innovation. For many African Americans who had lived their entire lives on a farm or in a rural area, the push towards greater urbanization represented a new trend in their lives after emancipation. Those who continued to live on plantations and work the land were free by proclamation but not in practicality. Plantation owners continued to be very angry about emancipation. One of the key issues they faced was the loss of the protection of Union troops who withdrew from Southern states in 1877. This forced African Americans to face the new reality that many White Americans were not happy about abolition and would not be subdued so easily. In addition, there was a great deal of immigration to the US at this time which brought people of many new cultures to the US. There were many Americans who were unhappy about this as they saw them as outsiders and not real Americans (Mjagkij &. Cantu, 1999).
The African Americans were often perceived of as outsiders as well. Prejudice continued to run high as many Americans felt their country was being taken away from them. African Americans often faced lynchings and other horrific acts of prejudice against them. Mjagkij and Cantu (1999) noted that even though they were free from slavery many African Americans had no place to go and many Southern plantation owners no longer wanted them. The unfortunate reality is that they remained economically dependent on Whites and the work they could give them. A major blow during this period was the passing of the Jim Crow laws which basically recognized that American society was to be a segregated