African Americans: In depth studies and debates

African Americans and the Gilded Age: Positives

  • 1870- 15th Amendment prevents restriction of voting based on colour, race or previous position of slavery
  • 1870- Hiram Rhodes Revels becomes the first black member of the Senate 
  • 1870- Joseph Rainey becomes first black member of the U.S. House of Representatives
  • 1872- PBS Pinchback is sworn in as first black governer 
  • 1875- Civil rights act (BUT late denounced as unconstitutional)
  • 1879- Exodus of 1879, thousands of AAs migrate to Kansas
  • 1880- Stauder v. West Virginia, SC rules that blacks cannot be discluded from juries
  • 1881- Booker T Washington opes HBCU in Alabama
  • 1885- A biracial popuilst coalition briefly hold power in Virginia
  • 1886- Norris Wright Cuney becomes chairman of Texas Republican party
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African Americans and the Gilded Age: Negatives

  • 1871- Klan act passes
  • 1873- Slaughterhouse cases, SC votes to exclude state laws from being subject to the 14th Amendment
  • 1873- Colfax and Coushatta massacres, White and black Republicans are murdered
  • 1876- Hamburg Massacre
  • 1887- Comprimise of 1887, federal troops withdrawn from south, ending reconstruction
  • 1880s- Segregation of public transport
    • Tennessee segregated railroad cars 
    • Florida 1887
    • Mississippi 1888
    • Texas 1889
    • Louisiana 1890
  • 1883- Civil Rights Act of 1875 struck down by SC as unconstituional
  • 1890- Mississippi passes a state constitution that eefectively disenfranchised most African Americans from voting, through poll tax and literacy tests
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African Americans and the Gilded Age: Negativesa

1875-1877 white democrats gained political control of South by electoral fraud/violence/intimidation 

1880s – white planter class/’Bourbon’ aristocracy enjoyed political power across South 

Post Populist movement – state governments in South sought to exclude blacks from political life by introducing new laws so applicants had to pass literacy tests to vote 

1874Founding of paramilitary groups acted as “military arm of Democratic party” – White League in Louisiana/Red Shirts in Mississippi, Norther/South Carolina – terrorized blacks

1883 Court declared than 14th amendment forbids states, but not citizens, from discrimination

1873 Slaughterhouse Cases the Supreme Court votes exclude state laws from being subject to 14th amendment 

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African Americans and the New Deal: Positives

  • Mrs Roosevelt resigned from DAR - it refused Miss Anderson to sing in WA due to race 
    • Miss Anderson invited to sing on steps of Lincoln Memorial on Easter Sunday
    • Caused AA to vote democrat 
  • FERA 1933 – gave $500 million to help Americans with no home/money
  • Civilian Conservation Corps 1933
    • by 1938, 11% (350,000+) of AA population
  • Educational programs taught 1 million+ AA to read/write, increase in primary schools 
  • Works Progress Administration 1935-1943 
    • Employed 350,000 AA annually, approx. 15% of workforce 
    • Non-discriminatory policy 
  • Second Agricultural Adjustment Administration 1938 
    • Allowed gov to continue subsidizing farmers 
    • AA support as 40% of AA made livings as sharecroppers/tenant farmers 
    • Mid 1945 – 45 AA held positions in cabinet officers
  • Mary McLedo Bethune directed council- beneficial policies for AA -> tripled AAs in fed gov
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African Americans and the New Deal: Negatives

  • June 1933 National Industrial Recovery Act
    • 700 industrial organizations restricted output, forced wages/prices ^ market levels 
    • 500,00 blacks, especially in South, lost jobs 
  • Unemployment rate 17%
    • FDR tripled taxes between 1933 and 1940 
  • Agricultural Adjustment Act 1933
    • less production = less work for thousands of black sharecroppers
  • Blacks among 100 million consumers forced to pay higher food prices because of AAA
  • Unions could exclude AA
  • Reforms of New Deal did not include Civil Rights Act 
  • Up to 10% of New Deal aimed to help AA, greater proportion of population than this 
  • Tenant farmers received no reparations (many were AA)
  • Federal Housing Administration 1934 – segregated housing in Southern states (Jim Crow), FHA unwilling to lend in low income AA neighbourhoods 
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African Americans and Black Power: Positives

  • 1960 Nation of Islam – national organization, recognition in every major black community 
    • focus on white supremacy e.g. unemployment, police brutality, job discrimination 
    • Made NAACP/SCLC seem attractive alternatives to white American 
  • Black Power movement had support in North than MLK did not have
  • Black identity/awareness of grievances 
  • Radicalisation energized AA
  • Northern ghettos
  • 1968 Olympics Black power salute Tommie Smith/John Carlos during medal ceremony 
  • 2 athletes received medals shoeless but wearing black socks – representing black poverty 
  • NOI – used vibrant newspapers/links with religion = emotional connection, had strong ideology which many felt they could connect with 
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African Americans and Black Power: Negatives

  • Black Panthers, 1966
    • 1969 – 27 black panthers shot, 750 arrested 
    • 1970 – Federal Bureau of Investigation broke Black Panther leadership 
    • Never more than 5,000 members
    • gained publicity greater than real influence 
    • Some historians conclude studies of civil rights at MLK’s death 1968 
  • Violence – radicals could not resist power of state, not achieving change King’s peaceful protests did 
  • Clashes with police, openly having weapons strengthened opponents of civil rights 
  • Not comparable with mass support for MLK
  • Obstacle to racial equality
    • Media portrayed them as sabotaging civil rights movement 
    • Heightened racial tension by portraying black radicals as violent racists 
    • Weakened support for further anti-racist measures 
  • Divided movement
    • NAACP condemned Black Power as opposing peace
  • Militancy caused backlash among white liberals
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