1861-5 American Civil War
1862 Emancipation Proclamation
1865 13th Amendment – Slavery abolished
1868 14th Amendment – Citizenship rights for all
1870 15th Amendment – Voting rights for all
1890-10 ‘Jim Crow’ laws passed in south
1896 Plessy v Ferguson – SC allowed segregation if ‘separate but equal’
- The american revolution created an independent country in which all of its citizens enjoyed legally protected rights.
- However these rights did not extend to the vast majority of american blacks, who still had the status of slaves. They had no rights.
- By 19th century slavery had been abolished throughout americans northern states but it continued across the south.
- Slavery was one of the central reasons for the outbreak of civil war between the south and the north states.
- President lincoln declared freedom of all american slaves in his 1862 emancipation proclamation, following the north's victory in the civil war slavery was abolished.
In the 25 years following the civil war attempts were made to make america's society fairer and to rebuild the southern states.
- Two amendments were passed.
- 14th (1868) - gave citizenship rights to all people.
- 15th (1870) - gave all citizens voting rights regardless of their race.
Segregation in the south
· After the abolition of slavery, white supremacists were forced to find new ways to oppress black people. Between 1890 and 1910 Southern states introduced legal segregation – ‘Jim Crow’ laws – denied blacks’ access to facilities used by whites. Education, healthcare, transport and public facilities (restaurants, cinemas, toilets etc) were segregated. Whites never called black men ‘Mr’ or black women ‘Mrs’ . Blacks were never invited into a white family’s dining room – could only eat together in kitchen/back porch. Even though the 15th Amendment gave blacks the right to vote, southern states still found ways to disenfranchise blacks: Grandfather clause – could only vote if grandfather could - Literacy tests – weren’t applied fairly. ‘The good old time *****’ – presented blacks as happy to serve whites and with their role in a segregated society. The KKK targeted black people who showed any disrespect to whites, prosperous blacks and those that challenged segregation – terrorised by lynching – in 1900 there were 115 instances across USA. Little justice for black Americans against violent discrimination as KKK members were often also judges, policeman and other local officials.
Challenging segregation in the south
Plessy V.Ferguson 1896
Homer Plessy went to court. Plessy claimed that segregation was unlawful because all citizens were guarenteed equal rights under the 14th amendment. He claimed that the state of Louisiana had acted illegally when they had arrested him for sitting in a white only area of a railway train.
Conditions in the North:
· Little legally enforced segregation – unlike south.
· Predominantly industrial workers – mainly agricultural in the south.
· Better pay – although only 50% of average white wage.
· Black workers in the north were better organised – in the mid 1920s A. Phillip Randolph organised the first successful black union: The Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters.
· It was easier to vote – no grandfather clause or literacy tests.
· During WW1 there was a period of ‘great migration’ – thousands of blacks moved to industrial cities of Chicago and Detroit to work in the war industries – 500,000 migrated from south to north.
· Still enormous discrimination and racism.
Blacks were forced to live in undesirable neighbourhoods – economic deprivation and ghettoisation were substantial problems
position of black americans date chart
1941 America enters WW2 ,Roosevelt sets up the FEPC
1943 Detroit riots, William L. Dawson elected to congress
1944 Roosevelt re-elected
1945 End of WW2 ,Adam Clayton Powell elected to congress
1949 William Haist appointed as federal judge
Position of black americans
· Over 1.2million black men joined the US army during WW2; the experience radicalised them.
· Northern blacks were trained in camps in the south – this was their first experience of formal racial segregation – disgusted as they were fighting for their country’s legacy yet they were treated as second class citizens in their own country.
· Black soldiers had different canteens and were transported to the battlefield in different vehicles – many were employed as cooks or cleaners and so were denied the right to fight.
· Black soldiers that did make it to the front line were given less training and worse equipment – black battalions often sent to most dangerous parts of battlefield – led to riots.
Position of black americans
Whilst in Europe, black soldiers noticed there was no formal segregation and that they were treated as heroes – wanted this treatment at home.
· Black soldiers used the ‘double v’ sign which symbolised that they were fighting for two victories – abroad against fascism and at home against racism.
· Black soldiers’ courage changed the attitudes of many white soldiers: ‘they’re just like any of the other boys to us’ and helped boost blacks self esteem – made them determined to challenge racial injustice.
· The government spent vast sums creating armaments and supplies for the army.
· In the south $4.5billion was spent on creating factories that produced war goods but at first blacks couldn’t get jobs due to racist employees.
· A. Phillip Randolph was appalled at this ‘colour’ bar and threatened to lead a march to Washington unless the government forced change. In 1941 FDR created the Fair Employment Practices Commission (FEPC – EO8802) – forced war industries not to discriminate on grounds of ‘race, creed, colour or national origin’ when hiring.
Economical changes 2
Industries in the north also boomed – there was another wave of black migrants. · In 1940, approx 1/4 of blacks lived in the north, by 1950, 1/3. · Economic changes allowed blacks to play a major role within the war effort and changed the way they lived – by 1945, 48% of blacks were urban (paid more).
Challenging Crow date chart
1940-1957 CNO voter registration campaign in Arkansas
1944 Smith v. Allwright
1946 Morgan v. Virginia
1947 NACCP boycott of New Orleans department stores CORE’s Journey of Reconciliation
1951 NAACP protest over school closures in Louisiana
1953 NAACP boycott a segregated school in Lafayette Baton Rouge bus boycott – UDL
Challenging Jim crow
· The decade after the war is described as the ‘Golden years of the NAACP’ – operated a three-fold strategy to challenge southern segregation. 1st – took ‘Jim Crow’ laws to court – appealed to 14th and 15th amendment; 2nd – put pressure on politicians in Washington; 3rd – organised popular resistance.
· Smith v. Allwright, 1944 – concerned black voting rights. Blacks in Texas were excluded from primary elections, Smith (black Texan) challenged this and with backing from the NAACP took the case to the Supreme Court. Case ruled that Texan white primary was illegal because according to the 15th amendment, all citizens had the right to vote; consequently all-white primaries were outlawed across America.
· Morgan v. Virginia, 1946 – challenged segregation on interstate bus services. Morgan was fined $100 for refusing to give up her seat for a white man – argued this violated her constitutional rights. Took her case to Supreme Court with backing from NAACP’s chief lawyer Thurgood Marshall – in 1946 – segregation on interstate buses = illegal.
Challenging jim crow 2
Between 1945 and 1955, the NAACP organised a series of protests in Louisiana – in 1947, they picketed New Orleans’ four biggest department stores for refusing to allow black customers try on hats; in 1951, they used the same tactic in Alexandra in protest at the local black school closing through the cotton harvest so black children could work in the fields; in 1953, there was a boycott of a new built school in Lafayette – facilities obviously inferior to local white school.
· UDL organised week-long bus boycott in Louisiana’s capital – Baton Rouge in 1953 – unsuccessful, too short to catch media’s attention – buses remained segregated.
Challenging jim crow 3
Between 1940 and 1957, CNO organised a voter registration campaign in Arkansas – increased proportion of black voters from 1.5% in 1940, to 17.3% in 1947.
· The NAACP set up a lynching investigation squad in 1956 who visited lynching scenes, collected evidence and mounted court cases to bring the perpetrators to justice – lynching was on the decline by 1955.
· CORE’s Journey of Reconciliation, 1947 – following Morgan v Virginia and the ruling that segregation on interstate transport was illegal, little de facto change occurred. 16 CORE activists (8 black, 8 white) planned to travel by bus from north to south – lasted for two weeks but managed to prove that bus companies in the south were ignoring the ruling although did result in the arrest of 12 CORE members and failed to force southern states like NC into desegregating its interstate bus services.
Kicking Jim crow out of Schools: Date chart
1950 Sweatt v. Painter
1954 Brown v. Board of Education ofTopeka, White Citizens’ Council(WCC) formed
1955Brown v. Board of Education (II) Emmett Till lynched
1956 Southern Manifesto signed, NAACP banned from Alabama
Kicking Jim crow out of school
Why was education targeted by the NAACP?
· It was obvious that whilst children were being educated separately, they weren’t being educated equally – could highlight that segregation was illegal in terms of Plessy v Ferguson, 1896.
· In 1949, South Carolina spent an average of $179 a year educating a white child in comparison to $43 a year for a black child.
· It was thought that by improving education for African Americans, it was a step towards improving their lives as they would have better access to good jobs and secure incomes.
How was education targeted
Sweatt v. Painter, 1950 – Sweatt was a black student hoping to study law at the University of Texas – segregated and so he was refused entry. The NAACP challenged this and argued Sweatt was entitled to an education equal to whites at the Law School, the Texan courts ordered the creation of a new school specifically for black law students – rejected by the NAACP and taken to SC – inferior to white facilities (fewer teachers and books). SC agreed with NAACP – ordered University of Texas Law School to accept Sweatt as a student. Brown v. Board of Education, 1954 – Brown took the state of Kansas to court for failing to provide adequate education for his daughter – forced to attend all-black school that was 20 blocks away from her home instead of local white school. The NAACP took the case to SC – after three years of battles it was decided unanimously that segregation was illegal in American schools – marked an end to ‘separate but equal’ doctrine Brown (II), 1955 – In the first year after the Brown case, little de facto change occurred. The NAACP asked the SC for a timetable for the desegregation of southern schools – ‘should occur with all deliberate speed’ – NAACP = too vague; Southern racists = further attack.
Why did the Supreme Court decide to desegregate
· Segregation had negative impact on black children.
· Recognised America was changing – between 1945 and 1954 – considerable growth in the black middle class due to migration – more assertive and likely to challenge racial inequality in the courts.
· Believed that for over 60years southern states had failed to provide equal education – only way to ensure equal provision was to integrate the schools.
· A racist education system didn’t reflect the ideals that America was fighting for in the Cold War.
· Change of leadership – in 1953 Earl Warren became the new Chief Judge – more sympathetic towards civil rights issues and managed to persuade others that segregation in education could no longer be tolerated.
What was the reaction to the Brown case?
· Many blacks believed it was the beginning of the end of segregation – believed that the SC would back legal challenges to segregation in other areas – led to an increase in local activism by groups like NAACP and CORE.
· The WCC was set up to demand the segregation continued in schools – raised money to support white state schools that decided to become private to avoid desegregation and campaigned for election of local politicians that were strongly opposed to desegregation.
· Revival in KKK activity – in 1955, Emmett Till (14 year black boy) was lynched and his murderers were fond not guilty by an all white jury.
· Sustained attack on NAACP – banned in Alabama and 48/50 branches closed in Louisiana.
What was the reaction to the brown case
· Senator Harry F. Byrd called on white southerners to put up ‘massive resistance’. Led 101 southern congressmen to sign ‘the Southern Manifesto’ in 1956 – argued the Brown ruling was unconstitutional because the constitution didn’t mention education. · Eisenhower refused to comment on ruling – criticised in private – thought legal change wouldn’t change hearts and minds of southern racists. · By 1957, only 750 of 6,300 southern school districts had desegregated – only 3% of black students in the south were in mixed schools – in 1958, 58% of black children remained in segregated schools – de jure change = limited.