After the civil war was over African Americans had another war to fight with whites for freedom and equality. Our constitution is the oldest written document that is still used and is still in effect today. "We the people of the United States, in order to form a more perfect union, establish justice, ensure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity, do ordain and establish this constitution for the United States of America". The preamble of the constitution explains the purposes of the government based on the will of the people. The thirteenth, fourteenth, and fifteenth amendments were ratified and thus were the starting points of the civil rights movement. The thirteenth amendment, ratified in 1865, stated that slavery would be abolished everywhere in the United States. After the Dred Scott case, which was the court case that denied blacks citizenship in the United States, Congress feared that it would contrast with the Civil Rights Act. The fourteenth amendment granted citizenship to "all persons born or naturalized in the United States." It also guaranteed to all people equal protection of the laws. Under this amendment, no state could deprive a person of life, liberty, or property without due process of law. The fifteenth amendment, which was ratified in1870, granted blacks the right to vote despite color or previous condition of servitude.
Even after the ratification of these three amendments, white southerners made it difficult for African Americans to gain the freedoms that they were granted. Poll taxes, the grandfather clause, and literacy tests made it almost impossible for African Americans to vote. Jim Crow laws, which were laws calling for segregation of the races in public places, were anything but equal. In 1896, there was a supreme court decision, Plessy v. Ferguson, that stated that segregation was okay as long as it was equal; in other words "separate but equal".