Freedom to the Free: Century of Emancipation, 1863-1963: A Report to the President

Freedom to the Free: Century of Emancipation, 1863-1963: A Report to the President

Freedom to the Free: Century of Emancipation, 1863-1963: A Report to the President

Freedom to the Free: Century of Emancipation, 1863-1963: A Report to the President

Excerpt

The rise of the American Negro from slavery to citizenship is one of the most dramatic chapters of American history. It is also a continuing process, the pace of which has at times been a source of national disgrace.

Slavery is now a curious and archaic word. To the heirs of slave and master there has been left a legacy of shame and triumph, pain and joy, that constitutes a unique record of the indomitability of the human spirit. With this 100-yearold legacy has come the task of continuing the quest for full citizenship.

The purpose of this report is to follow this quest from the time of the Emancipation Proclamation until the present. Its scope is the breadth of the Negro's aspiration for true equality and freedom. It embraces all those whom history chose to play a part in the evolution of civil rights in America.

During the closing years of the Civil War, responsible leaders began to talk about the rights to which the freedman would be entitled, and they began to call them civil rights. The term was widely used in the years following the war, and Congress recognized the relevance of civil rights to the status of Negroes by enacting in 1866 the first "Civil Rights" law with the specific purpose of protecting the freed Negro from discrimination. For 100 years the question of civil rights has been intimately connected with the Negro in the United States.

In confining the report to Negroes we in no way suggest that the record presented has relevance only for that group of the population. In placing special emphasis on civil rights we mean to stress those individual rights protected against . . .

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