After the Civil War, African Americans briefly rode a wave of reform to important political positions. Roughly 2000 took office and nearly a dozen former slaves served in Congress. Despite efforts to use intimidation and Jim Crow laws to quash the increasing respect and power that African American men were gaining, these trailblazers served as prominent advocates of racial equality. From a former manservant to a little-known Civil War veteran, learn about five men who rose from slavery to become part of the first generation of Congressmen.
Presented in partnership with U.S. National Park Service.