They developed anti-racist politics and organizational skills through anti-slavery organizations turned church associations. Black delegates actively participated in revising state constitutions. Southern black women sought to redefine their public and private lives.
At Colfax, Louisiana, inscores of black militiamen were killed after surrendering to armed whites intent on seizing control of local government. Above all, freedpeople wanted freedom to control their families.
Among them were skilled craftsman like Emanuel Fortune, a shoemaker from Florida, minsters such as James D. Many political leaders and officeholders were ministers. Moving into political office was a natural continuation of the leadership roles they had held in their former slave communities.