How did African Americans take advantage of their new freedom after Reconstruction?

When the Fifteenth Amendment was passed, the large numbers of new black voters meant that blacks were finally participating in government.

The Freedmen’s Bureau helped African Americans build schools, small businesses, and churches. Several black colleges were founded during this time. White teachers came to the South, opened schools, and trained other teachers; ministers and businessmen helped with voter registration.

Young black men became interested in political office. Many African Americans were elected to positions of power on the local, state, and national levels. African Americans in political office used their power to improve public education and to end property qualifications for voting, imprisonment for debt, and segregation in public facilities.

In South Carolina, blacks held the most political positions, holding at various times the offices of lieutenant governor, secretary of state, treasurer, and speaker of the house.