seed of change, 1945 - 1955

the situation facing black americans in 1940's and 50's. north vs south.

HideShow resource information
  • Created by: elshie
  • Created on: 14-05-11 21:01

in the south - social factors

*Black people were subjected to 'de jure' discrimination. As the 'Jim crow laws (1896 - 1964) were put inforced after the 'Plessy v Ferguson' case (1996). giving the governments an excuse to allow segregstion in education and all public facilities.

* the KKK (most famous 1915 - 1929) were proclaimed themselves as white supremacy, by targeting black people who disrepected white people, challenged the segregation ect. in the 1900's there were  3,446 lynchings of black people between 1882 and 1968.

- in 1915 they relased a movie called 'birth of a nation' which made klan members ' heroes' as they protected the vulnerable white society from black men. this movie was the most popular inthat year and it grossed an equivalent to $220 million dollars today.

1 of 14

the south - economic factors

* The KKK and many other rascist white americans believed inthe 'good old time *****'. an ideology that relates back to slavery where black people work in domestics. therefore black people were treated harshly and represed when they wanted to be promoted.

* most black people were in the agriculture trade and were imployed as sharecroppers, but they needed to buy equipment and seeds. These loans were chasrged at exorbitant rates of interest, ehich meant that the sharecroppers were in debt. By early 1930s there were 5.5 million white tenants, sharecroppers, and mixed cropping/laborers in the United States, and 3 million blacks.

* the economic hardship meant that many black people were socially deprived with poor housing, low lving standards, poor helath and lower levels of education

2 of 14

the south - Political

*black people were sujected to the 'de jure' discrimination, i.e the discrimination was rooted in laws that had been passed in southern states (jim crow 1896 - 1964)

* Black people had no say in the election, they were prevented from voting through 'legla means if state laws' which included;

- Grandfather clause, where you had to prove that the 2 previous generations had voted for you to vote.

- hard literacy tests were put up that white voters didnt have to do.

- some states put up 8 election ballots and the lback voter would pick one, he/she had to pick the right box to vote.

3 of 14

the north - social factors

* there was little segregation forced into the northern states and the jim crows were not inplace. But they were still subject to 'de facto' descrimination (though the laws did not discriminate).

* the majority of black workers were in industirial work therefore the pay was better.

* due to economic struggles 'ghetto's' developed in places such as Harlem in New York, 90's of these ghetto's were occupied by black residnece.

* A strike was organised by 25,000 white employees at Parkard in detroit in 1943 because 3 black employees had been promoted.

4 of 14

the north - economic factors

* in the economic boom of the 1920's it attracted 500,000 migrants from the south

* many who came from the south, were pooly skilled and when they found a job it was often menial.

5 of 14

the north - political factors

* In 1935, The Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters became the first labor organization led by blacks to receive a charter.

*violent race riots occured in nothern cities, triggered by interacial conflicts, mainly in New York and Detroit.

* no laws preventing blacks from voting, although poverty did stop people from registering as the fee was expencive.

6 of 14

impact of second world war on a rsing black consci

*when war had broken out, many blacks had been supportive of it. but many black soliders were struck by the contradiction of fighting for the 4 freedoms they could not enjoy at their home.

* but through this war many attitudes from white soldiers changed as the black soldiers showed courage, as pilots such as Woodrow Crockett, an American airman, in the last year if the war flew 149 missions and not a plane was ever shot down to protect European Harbour. following the end of the war (1946).  black soldiers expected to get the recognition for their achievemnts when they returned and change to take place for the better.

7 of 14

economic changes for the war

For the war effors $4.5 billion was spent on factories that produced war good. But in the south blacks were unable ot get gd jobs because of rascism. But A Philip Randolf threatened a march to Washinfton with other African Americans. so President Roosevelt issued an 'Executive Order' creating the 'Fair enployment Practice' in 1941.

Resulting in black farmers moving to the north to get jobs in the new war industry.

Northern industry boomed, leading ot a wave of black migrants from south to north. by 1950 1/3 of black americans lived in the north.

By the end of the war, 48% of the black population was urban, jobs in the city paid more than in the countryside.

Also the campaigns by Philip Randolf showed that putting pressure on government could force politicians to act in favour of racial equality.

8 of 14

political change

* in the South: before the war, 2% of the black population voted but after 15% did.

*but sadly the campaigns and efforts made by blakc activists and soldiers to register more black citizens to vote was greeted with white hostility.

But in the North: in 1945, 16 county's had a blakc population of 5 -13% meaning that if they voted together they could decide the outcome of the results.i.e in the election of William L. Darwson(1943) and Adam Clayton Powell(1945) to congress.

* in recognitions ot the blakc political power, American Presidents began appointing African Americans to positions in the federal government. i.e William Haist appointed federal judge in 1949

9 of 14

Economic changes after war

*500,000 african Americans moved form South to north during the war in search for better conditions and found higher paid jobs in industrial cities.

* as a result to the war boom, black uneployement fell form 937,000 (1940) to 151,000 (1945). BUT blakc industrial workers still earned less than white workers. Also if a black worker was promoted white people still opposed even in the north. i.e the detroit riot of 1943 were houghly distructive.

* also white uneployment was at 6% wheras blakc unemployment was 10%.

10 of 14

the Social Conditons after the war

*segregation remained thorughout the southern state (until 1964. for example in Washington, African Americans were barred from all restaurants, cinema's and hotels in the central district.

*40% of housing for black people was considred sub - standard in Washington, whereas only 12% for white housing.

* also black citizens were poorer than white citizens which meant that they were often forced to live in worse accomodation and in undesirable parts of the cities.


11 of 14

the Truman presidency (1945 - 1953)

Harry S. Truman - an unexpected reformer

- although in his youth he was racist, after learning about the racist attacks made to brave black soldiers, he changed his mind. He knew there was a growing popularity of the democratic party from the black community, so he committed to challenging southern racism.

Impact of the Cold War: Truman believed that America had a moral duty to fight Communism and promote freedom across the world, he agreed that it would be ignorant to fight abroad for freedom abroad, whilst segregation oppressed blacks in America’s South.


12 of 14

To secure these Rights (1947)

To secure these rights (1947): This was a report written by the President’s Committee on civil rights. It highlighted that segregation was undemocratic.

Police brutality: admitted that racist violence was wide spread in the American police force. harsh methods they used such as pistol whipping, beating prisoners with rubber hoses , the denial of medical treatment to black prisoner’s, prisoner’s being tied up and drowned etc to make them admit false claims. Employment and Education:Agreed that black people had fewer work opportunities than white people.- 62% of black men compared to 28% of white men were in low wage farming. -there was a big wage gap between black and white workers. As black people earned 47 cents per hour and white people received 65 cents. - a black high school graduate earned $775 whereas a white graduate earned $1,454 Education - average annual salary of white teacher = $1,107 whereas black teacher earned $ 342Health: in 1940 there was one black doctor for every 3,377 black patients, whereas 1 white doctor for every 750 patients, this can be linked to the refusal from many medical schools to enrol black students.

13 of 14

to secure thse rights (2)

The report recommended immediate and radical action to be made by the federal government to protect and advance the civil rights of all Americans. By proposing new laws to deal with lynching which would force the police to intervene to protect black citizens from mod violence.However, These suggestions were unrealistic that mass police and local state government were racist and had no intention in helping black people.

Truman’s power:Although he wasn’t able to fulfil every part of his report, he employed African American’s such as Ralph Bunch as American’s ambassador to the UN, which led him to get a noble peace prize over his work mediating between Israelis and Palestinians in 1950.* Used pre

sidential power to desegregate American Armed forces. Important as army was held at high esteem to the nation.

14 of 14


No comments have yet been made

Similar History resources:

See all History resources »