AA: 1945 -55: Truman and Eisenhower

Social Rights

- Several factors hindered progress.  Fear of Communism grew with the start of the Cold War.  McCarthyism meant any form of radical activity could be perceived as pro-Communism

- Congress frequently had Democrat majorities during the 1940s and 1950s and southern Democrats strongly opposed anti-lynching legislation or even mild civil rights legislation

The Supreme Court made several important judgements in the early 1950s challenging the principle of ‘separate but equal’

- Henderson vs US (1950) stated that segregation on railway dining cars was illegal under the Interstate Commerce Act

- ‘Freedom Rides’ were organised by CORE to make the Supreme Court to enforce their ruling against segregation on interstate buses.

Governors and state officials, including the police were generally racist in southern states and KKK activities continued albeit on a lesser scale than in the 1920s.

- Lynching was not as common or public but it still occurred such as the case of Emmet Till (1955)

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Social Rights 2

- Brown V Board of Education in 1954 started with NAACP wanting to stop ‘separate but equal’ of doctrine Plessy vs. Ferguson ,decided to challenge segregation in schools in four states: Kansas, South Carolina, Virginia and Delaware

- 1953, Thurgood Marshall brought this matter to the Supreme Court stating a segregated system created low-esteem among black people and so segregated education could never be equal 

marked a watershed for black civil rights and created an important precedent as it removed constitutional sanction for the system of segregation

White suburban residents sent their children to schools on the edge of city boundaries while black ghetto children attended inner-city schools.  ‘De facto’ segregation remained even when Southern schools were finally desegregated

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Political Rights

- Truman's Presidency: Established a civil rights committee to investigate the increasing violence against blacks >>> produced a report entitled ‘To Secure These Rights’ (29 October 1947) >> emphasised that the US could not claim to be democratic while all citizens were not equal. 

- Recommended: anti-lynching legislation; voting rights statutes; a permanent FEPC; an end to discrimination in the armed forces;

Truman supported the recommendations but found it difficult to push these measures through Congress

Truman’s ‘Fair Deal’ proposals included legislation on civil rights, fair employment practices, opposition to lynching and improvements to existing public welfare laws

Truman worked hard to get the black vote.  He was the first incumbent President to hold an election rally in Harlem and addressed the NAACP’s annual meeting in 1947.  Despite the extra competition, Truman won narrowly.

- Appointed a black judge, William H Hastie, to the federal courts

 - Set up a Committee on Government Contract Compliance (CGCC) to ensure federal contracts were not to be given to companies that discriminated.

- Brown V. Board of Education (1954) > opposition from deep South > many thought state rights needed to be considered

- Sam Ervin of North Carolina drafted the ‘Southern Manifesto’ >  to fight the Brown decision by ‘all legal means’ and was signed by 100 Southern Congressmen.

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Political Rights 2

- Brown 2 > a second ruling was issued in May 1955 > Warren urged that desegregation occur within schools ‘with all deliberate speed’ > but no fixed timetable.

- Before Brown there was already  a gradual and steady increase in grassroots civil rights protest for some time before Brown.

- Brown was the culmination of a series of Supreme Court decisions dating back to the 1930s = decisions suggested it was a matter of time before segregated education was rejected

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Educational Rights

- McLaurin vs Oklahoma State Regents (1950) said that a black student could not be physically separated from white students in the University of Oklahoma.

- Sweatt vs Painter (1950) agreed that separate black Texan law school was not equal to the University of Texas Law School despite a three million dollar upgrading of the black Prairie View University as factors like tradition and prestige matter when considering the equality of the provision.  

- Brown V. Board of Education (1954) > great triumph for the NAACP’s long campaign against segregated education in the law courts > change in a number places outside the Deep South, by 1 year, 500 school districts in the North and Upper South desegregated e.g. Washington DC, Baltimore, St Louis

= ruling did not give date for segregation to be achieved > 1957, less than 12% of 6300 school districts in South had integrated, active opposition in the Deep South.

- Brown 2 (1955) > School boards throughout South drew up convoluted desegregation plans that would require decades to achieve full integration

- White suburban residents sent their children to schools on the edge of city boundaries while black ghetto children attended inner-city schools.

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Employment/ Economic Rights

- Truman encouraged Congress to continue funding the FEPC after the war but the bill was filibustered by Southern Congressmen

- Issued Executive Order 9981 to desegregate the armed forces and Executive Order 9980 which established the Fair Employment Board to ensure equal treatment of minorities in federal hiring

- Economic boycotts were implemented by the NAACP

Sharecroppers and black industrial workers could easily be evicted and jobs lost if they were brave enough to register to vote

- The sole African American on Eisenhower’s staff, E Frederick Morrow, was employed in 1955 initially arranging parking spaces

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