The Reconstruction Period and Women After the Civil War, the United States was broken and in despair, the next major step in history was to create a plan to rebuild the South, restore southern states to the Union, and most importantly free the Slaves, which we know as the Reconstruction Period. During the Reconstruction Period African American women writers such as Anna Julia Cooper and Victoria Earle Matthews, to name a few fought to show that Christian Affiliation played a big part in obtaining Social equality for Blacks. Both women being Suffragist believed strongly in equality for African American women and justice for all.
Cooper incorporated Christianity and education in her writings and speeches to encourage Blacks’, especially African American women that education is the key to obtaining position and power, while Matthews promoted moral and spiritual uplift to all (p. 115). Noticing that the thirtieth, fourteenth, and fifteenth Amendments passed in the 1800’s lacked the mentioning of sex (women) incorporated in them, angered Cooper, and Matthews, and the fight for women’s liberation intensified. The Reconstruction Period had a different meaning for Blacks’ than for White America, also for black women than for black men.
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This period to Blacks’ in general was a time to re-construct the image that was forced upon them since the first boat arrived in the Americans in 1619. However, for black women it was a time of identity crisis in race, gender, and society. Although African American Literature was not as rapid after the Civil War, Cooper and Matthews pointed out that black women rights during the Reconstruction Period were not significantly different from during slavery and illustrated help aids to help black women find their place in society as individuals.
Cooper used verbal and writing aids to “advocated civil rights, women’s rights, suffrage for women, and an American literature that rendered respectful images of African Americans” (p. 146). By receiving her PhD, it is understandable why black women followed her in the fight for justice and freedom for all. Matthews on the other hand fought for equal laws pertaining to marriage and divorce, and directed her focus on the “values of Christianity and its importance in teaching individuals the concept of equality and justice for all” (p. 22). Believing strongly in the re-building of black families she aided in the education of the domestic role for black women. Cooper and Matthews shared the same goal of stimulating lost hopes for black women and implemented those goals by regenerating different aspects of life, aspects of self and family that were buried in the hearts of starving women but never forgotten aspects, which were ignited by and is hidden in African American Literature.
By African American Literature being the main source of communication for Blacks’ before the Reconstruction period Cooper, Matthews and other black feminist refused to postpone literature as others did and knew that it was a definite way for promoting change. Through their literature, they became a sense of hope for broken, unaccepted, and hurting African American people as they communicated the road to enrich the lives of many Black women by enforcing the search and participation in education, family and God.