Quest for Economic Autonomy and Equal Rights
for autonomy and equality shaped African-Americans' definition of freedom.
Blacks wished to take control of the conditions under which they labored,
and carve out the greatest possible economic independence. In public life,
they demanded recognition of their equal rights as American citizens.
The end of
slavery, they insisted, enabled America for the first time to live up
to the full implications of its democratic creed by abandoning racial
discrimination and accepting blacks (or at least the adult males among
them) into the political nation.