How far do you agree that the impact of the Second World War was the main reason why the position of African Americans improved in the years 1945 - 1968

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How far do you agree that the impact of the Second World War
was the main reason why the position of African Americans
improved in the years 1945­55?
The impact of the Second World War was, without a doubt, crucial in improving the lives of black
Americans over the years 1945-55, as it led to federal support of the cause. However, it wasn't as
important as the use of direct action which, for the first time, was able to convert de jure into de
facto change. This, not the War, was therefore the most significant factor in the improvement;
achieving something which federal support and the work of civil rights organisations which did not
engage in direct action were alone unable to do.
The impact of the Second World War was influential in improving the lives of Black Americans
because it led to increased federal support of the Civil Rights movement. During the Second World
War, approximately 1.2 million black joined the United States armed forces. Their experience in the
army allowed understanding the extent to which they were being discriminated against. The
hypocrisy of the USA was discovered, a country claiming to be fighting a war of freedom yet
oppressed ethnic minorities in their own country. Being sent to Europe, where formal segregation
did not exist, the soldiers were able to see what could be achieved from desegregation. African
Americans were encouraged to. The War brought significant economic changes to the lives of black
Americans. Initially munitions factories would not employ African Americans. A.Phillip.Randolf
threatened a march on Washington D.C. if the government did not change the employment system,
President Truman felt obliged to commit to Civil Rights for Black Americans evident following the
report `to secure these rights. Following the report, several initiatives were organised, notably the
signing of Executive Order "9980" and Executive Order "10308". These were crucial in improving the
lives of Black Americans as they guaranteed fair employment practices in the Civil Services and that
defence contracts would not go to companies that discriminated against Black Americans, hence
empowering them in the workplace, this showed that pressuring the government could improve
racial equality. The FEPC created jobs for several black people; it created the opportunity for blacks
to migrate to the less segregated North, better wage rates were achieved and the Unemployment
number of blacks in the USA fell from 937,000 in 1940 to 151,000 in 1945, however black workers
were still paid less than their white counterparts.
Although the percentage of blacks increased from 2% to 15% by 1945, it was accompanied with its
fair share of white backlash. The number of lynching increased after the war, many black communities
were being coerced into not voting at elections. The southern states of the USA still remained
segregated, even in the North whilst public facilities were being integrated, the black communities
were so ill paid that they were forced to live in ghettos, which created long term issues for them. It
could be argued that the Second World War's influence was in fact limited. Despite the initiatives
implemented by President Truman it could be argued that it in fact did more `harm' than `good'.
There was a huge lack of commitment to these initiatives and it led to a growing white opposition
within government, evident following the lack of support and subsequent underfunding of these
initiatives, hence De Jure could not be converted into De Facto change.

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Another factor that had a significant impact on the lives of African Americans was initiatives
implemented by President Truman. Truman appeared to be committed to challenging segregation;
he valued the importance of the Black vote. In 1946, Truman's committee on civil rights was
established, a report called "To secure these rights" highlighted the problems blacks faced, and it
recommended radical change. It aimed tackle the issues of; Lynching, Police Brutality, Grandfather
and literacy clause, Discrimination in the armed forces and Employment/education inequality.…read more

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Civil Rights organisations, using the right tactics were able to convert De Jure victories
into De Facto. Conversely it could be argued that, like with other factors, even the success of Direct
Action could be argued of having limited effects in improving the lives of Black Americans. The CNO's
campaign despite actually creating De Facto change was unable to increase voting registration by a
significant margin, considering all citizens whether Black or White had the right to vote.…read more


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