Racial Inequality


Early 1950's - Presidents

  • President Truman held racist views and had once joined the KKK but now spoke out for civil rights, particularly returning soldiers
  • He gave black workers equality in armed forces and the civil service and ruled that government contracts couldnt be given to companies who refused black employees
  • 1946 civil rights committee set up which recommended anti lynching laws, voting rights, an end to discrimination in interstate travel, a fair employment board....
  • this made no real change
  • Eisenhower seemed less committed to civil rights
  • he only emplyed one black worker on his election team who was given minor jobs
  • Eisenhower did introduce civil rights bills in 1957 and 1960
  • These made it illegal to obstruct school desegregation and illegal to stop black voters from voting, but it only increased by 3%
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Early 1950's - segregation

  • Southern states laws passes segregation of white and african americans and ensured that A A were seen as inferior
  • These were passed in the late 19th century but continued on in half of the 20th century,
  • These so called Jim Crow laws imposed racial segreation in every aspect of life
  • 1 000 000 AA had migrated to Northern industrial cities where they could find work but they were poorly paid and poorly housed
  • AA ghettoes grew up in parts of cities such as New York
  • Some were able to escape poverty and isolation in the north through sport or music
  • Some AA challenged Jim Crow laws afert WW2 as they fought along whites. Short term - encouraged whites to tighten existing laws to protect their superior status
  • Some soldiers who questioned their place in society were beaten or killed
  • KKK gained support after this questioning and bombed houses, injuring many AAs.
  • Many whites were afraid of the growing civil rights movement
  • Supreme court - Seperate but equal
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Brown vs Topeka Board of Education 1954

  • Schools for whites were often better funded than those for AAs
  • 1954 20 states = segregated schools
  • NAACP challenged this inequality
  • Oliver Brown wanted to send his daughter to nearby white school
  • May, Supreme Court declared segregated schools unconstitutional
  • 1955, Supreme Court ruled all states had to carry out desegregation of schools
  • Many southern states objected or did nothing or moved slowly. Very little change
  • KKK revival - recieved support from protestand churches. Klan was mocked in the media but killings increased
  • First Victory for blacks, led to little rock
  • increased black confidence and activism
  • didnt involve civil rights movements tactic - direct action/mass protest\civil disobediance
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Montgomery Bus Boycott 1955-56

  • Rosa Parks (42) refused to give up her seat for a white man in Montgomery, Alabama. She was arrested and fined $10 She was a trained NAACP activist
  • Young local preacher Martin Luther King started a bus boycott - everyone would walk to work. 210 AA taxi drivers offered seats for bus prices. A car-pool was organised. Lasted 381 days
  • King and supporters called themselves the Montgomery Improvement Association and hired NAACP lawyers to take it to court
  • MIA deliberately wanted small reforms - black drivers on black routes, wanted politeness. Did not challende segregation; asked for a first come first serve basis
  • Local white citizen councils opposed MIA and membership doubled. Ordered local officials to harrass leaders. Kings house was bombed in 1956 by the KKK
  • Boycott crippled the economy and ruined bus companies, local shopkeepers lost $1 million
  • November 13th courts ruled the car pools illegal - Same day, declared segregation on buses unconstitutional
  • It demonstrated that with unity comes success and violent opposition increased support
  • Increased black confidence - waved at klan members, copy cat boycotts throughout the south
  • success =limited. Everything else still segregated and revealed depth of racism and determination of white. Parks lost her job/recieved death threats/moved to Detroit
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Little Rock, Arkansas 1957

  • 9 AA students registered to attend Little Rock Central High School
  • State governer Faubas opposed intergration and posted members of the National guard outside the school to prevent them from entering
  • National television showed the events outside school with an angry mob jeering and jostling
  • Eventually they entered through a back door
  • Eisenhower was forced to send federal troops to enforce the law that entitled these students to attend. 11,000 police guarded them in
  • Inside the school the students continued to recieve abuse from the pupils
  • Defeat? few other schools desegregated and few black children wanted to face the danger.
  • 1964 3% of americas black children attended desegregated schools
  • Little Rock wasnt fully desegregated until 1972
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Progress by 1960

  • Civil rights movement began to undermine segregations principles
  • 1967 MLK stated it had created the new ***** who has a willingness to stand up courageously for what he feels is just
  • Still no mass movement of black americans who still lacked basic civil rights
  • MLKs southern christian leadership conference tried to organise the registration of 3 million new black voters in 1957, it only added 160000 more names
  • The movement provoked an angry white backlash
  • White citizen councils were going through the lists and finding reasons to delete the names of black voters
  • Several southern states outlawed the NAACP
  • Legal success i.e. Brown vs Topeka
  • First mass protest
  • Opposition such as the KKK increased
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Living Standards

  • generally improving - 87% black americans lived below the poverty line in 1940, fallen by 40% by 1959
  • Many Black americans has migrated from the South to the North in search of work
  • They earned more but paid higher rents to live in appaling and overcrowed ghettos surrounded by violence and crime
  • black workers were trapped in low-skilled, low paying jobs
  • average black income in 1957 was only 57% of a white worker
  • Unemployment in Blacks was 11% (double whites)
  • By the end of the 50's, there was little/no change in everyday black lives
  • still discriminated and segregated against socially, economically, and politically
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