Author: Eric Foner
Publisher: W.W. Norton & Company
The Declaration of Independence announced equality as an American ideal, but it took the Civil War and the subsequent adoption of three constitutional amendments to establish that ideal as American law. The Reconstruction amendments abolished slavery, guaranteed all persons due process and equal protection of the law, and equipped black men with the right to vote. They established the principle of birthright citizenship and guaranteed the privileges and immunities of all citizens.
The federal government, not the states, was charged with enforcement, reversing the priority of the original Constitution and the Bill of Rights. In grafting the principle of equality onto the Constitution, these revolutionary changes marked the second founding of the United States.
Eric Foner’s compact, insightful history traces the arc of these pivotal amendments from their dramatic origins in pre–Civil War mass meetings of African-American “colored citizens” and in Republican party politics to their virtual nullification in the late nineteenth century.
A series of momentous decisions by the Supreme Court narrowed the rights guaranteed in the amendments, while the states actively undermined them. The Jim Crow system was the result. Again today there are serious political challenges to birthright citizenship, voting rights, due process, and equal protection of the law.
Like all great works of history, this one informs our understanding of the present as well as the past: knowledge and vigilance are always necessary to secure our basic rights.
Eric Foner is the author of many award-winning books on the Civil War and Reconstruction, including The Fiery Trial: Abraham Lincoln and American Slavery, winner of the Pulitzer Prize. He is DeWitt Clinton Professor Emeritus of History at Columbia University. http://www.ericfoner.com
Concerned about the lack of diversity in children’s books, Charnaie Gordon and her two kids are bridging the literacy gap with their new project that brings diverse books to children in each of the 50 states.
Gordon founded the Here Wee Read platform, which highlights diversity in children’s books, featuring multiple races, cultures and religions. The curated books also teach children about important subjects such as immigration and politics.
Through “50 States 50 Books”, Gordon and her two children are sending these significant books to non-profit organizations, libraries, schools, and more, to every state in the country.
Since launching this project, Gordon shares that several people have felt inspired to help, and have bought titles from Here Wee Read’s Amazon Wish List, that includes multiple sections such as “Juneteenth Books”; “Asian Picture & Chapter Books”; and “Latino/Bilingual Picture Books”. READ MORE........