In school, we are taught that the slaves were freed after the Civil War and were made full citizens of the U.S. We’re also taught that citizenship involves certain rights and duties, such as the right to vote, to hold elected office, to work, to own property, to have equal protection under the law and to have a trial by a jury of your peers, and that the duties of citizenship include following the law, paying taxes and serving in the military. The reality for many citizens is that the rights of citizenship are not automatically granted without a fight, and that battle that can take decades or more. The history of our country for the one hundred years after the Civil War and into the 20th century holds many of these battles, the stories of which are largely unknown. Nashville Public Television is telling these stories through The Citizenship Project.
At the end of the Civil War there was a brief period where Tennessee voters elected African-American legislators.