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Worksheets and No Prep Teaching Resources
Reading Comprehension Worksheets
Black History and Blacks in U.S. History
Leaders in the Legislative Branch

Black History and Blacks in U.S. History
Black History and Blacks in U.S. History

Leaders in the Legislative Branch
Print Leaders in the Legislative Branch Reading Comprehension

Reading Level
     edHelper's suggested reading level:   grades 8 to 12
     Flesch-Kincaid grade level:   7.9

     challenging words:    best-known, redrawn, literacy, beginning, dishonest, domestic, setback, addition, campaign, regain, public, increase, effort, equal, lasted, former
     content words:    African Americans, United States, Hiram Revels, United States Senate, Joseph Rainey, African American, Blanche K., African American Congressmen, Civil War, Jim Crow

Leaders in the Legislative Branch
By Sharon Fabian

1     When slavery ended, African Americans gained the chance to take part in American democracy. They became lawmakers at the local, state, and federal levels. Beginning in the 1870s, African Americans became members of both houses of Congress in the United States government. Hiram Revels, a free black man born in a slave state, was elected to the United States Senate in 1870. Joseph Rainey, born a slave, was the first African American elected to the House of Representatives, in 1870. Blanche K. Bruce was elected to the Senate in 1875. After a few years, no more blacks were elected to Congress for nearly one hundred years. What changed? What happened to stop the election of black lawmakers so soon after it had begun?
2     The 1870s, when these first African American Congressmen were elected, was the time known as Reconstruction. It was a period of rebuilding after the Civil War. There were federal troops still stationed in southern states. The U.S. government was making an effort to include former slaves in our democracy.
3     Reconstruction lasted for only a few years. Then the government withdrew its troops from the South. Former white leaders of the southern states took steps to regain the power they had lost. They passed laws restricting the rights and activities of African Americans. These laws became known as Jim Crow laws. One of the ways they restricted the freedoms of African Americans was by making it more difficult to vote.
4     Poll taxes were charged. Poll taxes stopped some people who had little money from voting. Literacy tests were instituted. They stopped people who had never learned to read from voting. Voting districts were redrawn, separating the black votes and making them less effective. Illegal activities kept blacks from voting, too. Violence and threats of violence kept black voters away from the polls. Dishonest elections caused some votes to go uncounted.

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Black History and Blacks in U.S. History
             Black History and Blacks in U.S. History

United States
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