War ended, but the struggle continued

The shooting stopped in April 1865. The American Civil War came to an end.

Soldiers returned home — to the North and to the South. They had to rebuild their lives. Many of them succeeded. Many did not.

Black Americans had been freed from bondage during that terrible conflict. Their struggles, though, remained in front of them.

PBS is documenting that struggle with a multipart series that is being shown on Panhandle PBS. The next installment airs Tuesday at 7 p.m. “African Americans: Many Rivers to Cross” will call attention to that struggle with an episode titled “Making a Way Out of No Way (1897-1940).”

Panhandle PBS program notes calls attention to it this way: “Chronicling 1897-1940, when blacks struggled to succeed within a segregated society; and when many migrated from the South to the North and West. Also recalled are such leaders as Ida B. Wells, W.E.B. Du Bois, Booker T. Washington and Marcus Garvey; racial violence; and the Harlem Renaissance of the 1920s.”

It could be described as the moment in U.S. history when the modern civil rights struggle began. Wells, DuBois, Washington and Garvey set the table for other great Americans such as Whitney Young, John Lewis, Thurgood Marshall and Martin Luther King Jr. who — among many others — all became the collective voice for the struggle toward full equality.

There would be plenty of violence to come after the Civil War. The Ku Klux Klan would arise, bringing terror to black communities across the land. Black communities in the South would disappear as African Americans migrated north to escape the blatant segregation and discrimination they encountered. They wouldn’t escape it totally, though.

The struggle would go on through much of the 20th century. PBS is taking viewers along for a still-bumpy ride.


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