Freedom Road

Freedom Road

Freedom Road

Freedom Road

Synopsis

"Howard Fast makes superb use of his material. ... Aside from its social and historical implications, Freedom Road is a high-geared story, told with that peculiar dramatic intensity of which Fast is a master". -- Chicago Daily News

Excerpt

Reconstruction, the turbulent era that followed the American Civil War, is one of the most neglected and misunderstood periods in our nation's history. A survey of high school seniors conducted recently by the Los Angeles Times found that fewer were able to identify Reconstruction correctly than any other event or period about which they were asked. The highly acclaimed television series on the Civil War shown a few years ago on public television devoted most of its final episode to the postwar reunion of white Northerners and Southerners, passing over Reconstruction so quickly that it did not even mention the era's name. "What the American public always wants," William Dean Howells once remarked, "is a tragedy with a happy ending." Unfortunately, unlike the Civil War, Reconstruction did not end in a blaze of glory.

This neglect is particularly unfortunate because in many ways Reconstruction remains a part of our lives, nearly a century and a quarter after its end in 1877. During the Reconstruction years the United States attempted to come to terms with the twin consequences of the Civil War--the reuniting of the nation and the destruction of slavery. On what terms should the defeated Confederacy be readmitted to the Union? What should be the new status of the former slaves? These were the questions on which the political crisis of Reconstruction turned. In demanding an end to the myriad injustices of slavery, incorporation as equal citizens into the political order, autonomy in their personal and religious lives, access to education, and land of their own, African Americans sought to breathe substantive meaning into freedom. In so doing, they helped to establish the agenda of this dramatic period.

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