Reconstruction is still with us. Recent events such as the NAACP's travel advisory warning black Americans to be cautious in Missouri and the events that erupted in Charlottesville, Virginia, have clearly shown that the United States has yet to face reconstruction over 150 years after the Civil War outlawed race-based slavery.” For historians, “Reconstruction” refers to the United States in the years following the Civil War. What if, however, the term “reconstruction” were to be unhooked from that specific time period and instead used to describe a society in flux after the end of slavery? It could then mean something less temporally specific but more thematically unified—the period of confusion and chaos that followed in the wake of American emancipation. It would go from a capital R time period to a lower-case r descriptor of promises of freedom yet to be fulfilled throughout the United States. Instead of focusing on...

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