Pursuing Life and Liberty in America 1945-1968

A complete set of notes about America 1945-68 (civil rights).

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The social and economic position of black citizens in the USA in the 1940s and early 1950s: the
nature and extent of discrimination and segregation; signs of change by 1955.
Martin Luther King and peaceful protest.
Black power and the use of violence; the extent to which equality had been achieved by 1968.
The changing economic and social environment of the 1960s: the position of other ethnic
1861-5 American Civil War
1862 Emancipation Proclamation
1865 13th Amendment ­ Slavery abolished
1868 14th Amendment ­ Citizenship rights for all
1870 15th Amendment ­ Voting rights for all
1890-1 `Jim Crow' laws passed in south
1896 Plessy v Ferguson ­ SC allowed segregation if `separate but
After the abolition of slavery, white supremacists were forced to find new ways to oppress
black people.
Between 1890 and 1910 Southern states introduced legal segregation ­ `Jim Crow' laws ­
denied blacks' access to facilities used by whites.
Education, healthcare, transport and public facilities (restaurants, cinemas, toilets etc) were
Whites never called black men `Mr' or black women `Mrs'.
Blacks were never invited into a white family's dining room ­ could only eat together in
kitchen/back porch.
Even though the 15th Amendment gave blacks the right to vote, southern states still found ways
to disenfranchise blacks:
- Grandfather clause ­ could only vote if grandfather could
- Literacy tests ­ weren't applied fairly
`The good old time negro' ­ presented blacks as happy to serve whites and with their role in a
segregated society.
The KKK targeted black people who showed any disrespect to whites, prosperous blacks and
those that challenged segregation ­ terrorised by lynching ­ in 1900 there were 115 instances
across USA.
Little justice for black Americans against violent discrimination as KKK members were often also
judges, policeman and other local officials.

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Conditions in the North
Little legally enforced segregation ­ unlike south.
Predominantly industrial workers ­ mainly agricultural in the south.
Better pay ­ although only 50% of average white wage.
Black workers in the north were better organised ­ in the mid 1920s A. Phillip Randolph
organised the first successful black union: The Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters.
It was easier to vote ­ no grandfather clause or literacy tests.…read more

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A. Phillip Randolph was appalled at this `colour' bar and threatened to lead a march to
Washington unless the government forced change. In 1941 FDR created the Fair Employment
Practices Commission (FEPC ­ EO8802) ­ forced war industries not to discriminate on grounds of
`race, creed, colour or national origin' when hiring.
Industries in the north also boomed ­ there was another wave of black migrants.
In 1940, approx 1/4 of blacks lived in the north, by 1950, 1/3.…read more

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Harry S Truman (1945-53)
Member of the KKK at age 38 ­ made $10 membership.
Born in Missouri (South) ­ used to legally enforced segregation.
Was moved by stories from black veterans who were victims of
racist attacks following WW2.
Understood the importance of the black vote.
Recognised that America couldn't fight for freedom abroad
while segregation oppressed blacks at home.…read more

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Signed EO 10308 ­ established Committee on Fair deal housing programme demolished more
Government Contract Compliance (CGCC) ­ houses than they built ­ actually less houses for
ensured lucrative government contracts didn't black Americans.…read more

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­ put pressure on politicians in Washington; 3rd ­
organised popular resistance.
Smith v. Allwright, 1944 ­ concerned black voting rights. Blacks in Texas were excluded from
primary elections, Smith (black Texan) challenged this and with backing from the NAACP took the
case to the Supreme Court. Case ruled that Texan white primary was illegal because according to
the 15th amendment, all citizens had the right to vote; consequently all-white primaries were
outlawed across America.
Morgan v.…read more

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Why was education targeted by the NAACP?
It was obvious that whilst children were being educated separately, they weren't being
educated equally ­ could highlight that segregation was illegal in terms of Plessy v Ferguson,
In 1949, South Carolina spent an average of $179 a year educating a white child in comparison to
$43 a year for a black child.…read more

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Many blacks believed it was the beginning of the end of segregation ­ believed that the SC
would back legal challenges to segregation in other areas ­ led to an increase in local activism by
groups like NAACP and CORE.
The WCC was set up to demand the segregation continued in schools ­ raised money to support
white state schools that decided to become private to avoid desegregation and campaigned for
election of local politicians that were strongly opposed to desegregation.…read more

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Birmingham Riots
3 March on Washington
196 Mississippi Freedom Summer
4 Civil Rights Act
196 Selma Campaign
5 Voting Rights Act
Watts Riots
Moynihan Report
196 Meredith March
6 Chicago Freedom Movement
196 The Poor People's Campaign
8 Memphis Workers Strike
195 Little Rock campaign
196 James Meredith and the
2 University of Mississippi
Montgomery bus boycott (1955-56):
In 1955 Rosa Parks refused to give up her seat for a white man…read more

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Under MLK's leadership, the MIA (Montgomery Improvement Association) was formed ­
organised initiatives like car pooling ­ showed MLK's leadership qualities and brought him
into the public eye where he then established the SCLC.
During the year long campaign, over 85% off Montgomery's black community boycotted buses.
Boycott hit bus companies hard ­ lost 65% of revenue ­ majority of customers = black ­
showed economic power of black citizens.…read more


Former Member

this is pretty good


Former Member

Very good notes. highly recommend! 


These notes alongside the Russia notes on this website got me an A at AS level history.


This has literally saved my skin (our history teacher has been skipping teaching chapters of this unit)... Brilliant notes. 

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