A DIVIDED UNION? THE USA 1945-1970 (key issue 2)

  • Created by: Laura
  • Created on: 23-12-12 11:52

Impact of the second world war on civil rights


Armed forces:

  • 1945- 600 pilots trained.
  • Mixed units at the Battle of the Bulge.
  • 1944 - 750,000 in US army.
  • Desegregation in navy in 1946


  • 1941 - March on Washington - forced government to end discrimination in the workplace.
  • More than 2 million employed in industry by the end of the war.
  • Number of black women in domestic service fell from 75% to less then 50%.
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Impact of the second world war on civil rights


Armed forces:

  • Few advances.
  • Segregation - black Americans performed menial tasks and lacked promotion opportunities.
  • Worst discrimination in the navy.


  • 400,000 migrated from the South to industrial regions in the North.
  • Faced discrimination and prejudice.
  • Earned half of white workers earned.
  • Racial tension led to race riots e.g. Detroit in 1943 - 25 black and 9 white people killed.
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What was the work of the NAACP and CORE?

The National Association for the Advancement of Coloured People:

  • Founded in 1909.
  • W.E.B. du Bois was leading member.
  • Aim - 'to ensure the political, educational, social and economic equality of rights of all persons and to eliminate racial hatred and racial discrimination.'
  • Sought to use all legal means.
  • Raised profile of issues.

Congress of Racial Equality:

  • Founded in 1942 by James Farmer.
  • Was inspired by non-violent tactics of Gandhi.
  • Employed sit-ins to highlight the issue of segregation.
  • Also demanded end to segregation on transport.
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Key developments in education in the years to 1962

Brown v. Topeka Board of Education, 1954:

  • Linda Brown's parents wanted her to attend a neighbourhood school rather than the black American school.
  • Lawyers from NAACP got involved, presented evidence to Supreme Court - segregated education caused low self-esteem etc. However, little impact as no specifics on how to integrate schools.

Little Rock High School, 1957:

  • Allowed 9 black students to enrol. However, they were prevented by governor Orval Faubus who ordered state National Guardsmen to block entry.
  • Bigger impact as President and Federal Government got involved and media portrayed racial hatred of Southern States.

James Meridith Case:

  • Mississippi University forced to take on black student, following federal involvement.
  • Three hundred soldiers had to stay on campus until Meredith recieved his degree three years later.
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Causes of the Montgomery Bus Boycott.

  • Segregation rules on transport.
  • Detainment of Rosa Parks, 1 December 1955, because she refused to give up her seat.
  • Connections introduced involvement of leading CRM leaders e.g. MLK.
  • Demanded complete desegregation on buses.
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What were the events of the Bus Boycott?

  • Black taxi companies helped during boycott by charging only 10 cents per ride - led to Montgomery City Law - minimum taxi fare had to be 45 cents.
  • Churches bought cars to take people to/from work - police used local laws to prevent crowds from gathering.
  • Organised opposition was led by The Montgomery White Council - membership grew to 12,000 by March 1956.
  • MLK and other leaders houses were bombed.
  • In February 1956 about 90 leading figures were arrested for organising illegal boycott. Found guily but not charged.
  • Issue of segregation was taken by the MIA to federal district court on the basis that it was unconstitutional. The federal court accepted this.
  • Montgomery city officials appealed and case went to the Supreme Court who agreed also. The boycott was successful.
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What was the role of Martin Luther King?

  • Appointed leader of Montgomery Improvement Association (MIA).
  • Organised carpools.
  • Endless energy and enthusiasm inspired others.
  • Devout religious beliefs won him many supporters.
  • Never intimidated.
  • Used non-violent tactics.
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What was the importance of the Bus Boycott?

  • Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) founded by MLK in 1957.
  • MLK became a leading figure in the CRM.
  • Boycott showed that unity and solidarity could win and victory offered hope.
  • Boycott demonstrated benefits of peaceful protests.
  • Showed that black Americans were able to organise themselves.
  • Gave the movement a clear moral framework.
  • Encouraged King to consider further action that would confront inequality.
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What was the impact of the Civil Rights Act, 1957?

  • Established the US Commission on Civil Rights. Its first project was to look for evidence of racial discrimination in voting rights in Montgomery, Alabama.
  • Emphasised the right of all people to vote, regardless of colour or race.
  • Allowed the federal government to intervene if individuals were prevented from voting.
  • Stated that all people had the right to serve on juries.

'Crusade for Citizenship'.

  • A march to Lincoln Memorial in Washington DC in 1957.
  • Failed to attract widespread support and President Eisenhower refused to be drawn into the debate over civil rights.
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What part did sit-ins play in civil rights?

  • Known as 'direct action' and often caused violence which lost the whites support.
  • In North Carolina, four black students demanded to be served at the whites-only lunch counter at a Greensboro branch of Woolworths. They were refused and the students remained seated at the counter until closed. By the 5th day 300 students had joined.They had to endure abuse and violence. Students boycotted any shops with segregated lunch counters, sales dropped and eventually segregation ended. 
  • Consequences:
    • April 1960 - students in 78 communities had held sit-ins.
    • 2000 protestors were arrested.
    • September 1961 - about 70000 students had used the sit-in tactic.
    • Variations on theme developed.
    • 810 towns and cities had desegregated public areas by the end of 1961.
    • Publicity gained for CRM.
    • The Student Non-violent Co-ordinating Committee (SNCC) was set-up.
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Who were the 'freedom riders'?

  • December 1960 - Supreme Court ruled all bus stations and terminals that served interstate travellers should be integrated - tested by CORE.
  • Began in May 1961 - little trouble at first.Violence erupted at Anniston, Montgomery, Birmingham and Jackson.
  • Attorney General Robert Kennedy got involved - promised used of US marshals to prevent violent attacks from white racists.
  • 22 September 1961 - the Interstate Commerce Commission made segregation illegal.
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What progress had been made by 1962?

¢The Albany Movement, 1961-62: —

  • Formed to oppose segregation in the town following arrest of several hundred freedom riders. 
  • Demonstrations failed to end segregation. 
  • —Small increase in number of black voters. 
  • Many saw events at Albany as a failure.

The Voter Education Project, 1962: ¢ —

  • Set up by Robert Kennedy to increase number of black voters. 
  • Mainly staffed by SNCC who showed voters how to register and overcome barriers. 
  • 650,000 new registrations - many still refused to vote on dubious grounds. 
  • Harassment still continued.
  • Not enough had been done to raise the issue of civil rights to the top of the domestic agenda in the USA.
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Miss E


A good set of cards on race relations and the impact of various events from WWII to 1962. Use them to check your own revision so far and then colour code them or create a mind map from them.

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