The Third Reconstruction
Posted by Eric Byler January 27, 2013
We traveled to Durham, NC and met with Rev. William Barber — President of the North Carolina NAACP — in early January, 2013 to ask him why he thinks America is so divided today. He told us this Story of America putting our current political conflicts over voter ID laws into historical context:
In Rev. Barber’s view, we are currently going through the third reconstruction. The first Reconstruction took place after the Civil War. Fusion politics — a governing coalition including Lincoln Republicans, freedmen and former slaves, and populists — made it possible for former slaves to become business, community, and political leaders. But fusion politics was snuffed out by a violent backlash, and replaced by Jim Crow laws that blocked African Americans from voting through poll taxes, impossible "tests," and terrorism.
In the 1960s, there was another attempt at reconstruction, better known as the Civil Rights Movement. The progress we made was met with another violent backlash, culminating in the assassinations of Martin Luther King, Jr. and Robert F. Kennedy in 1968.