African - American Civil Rights in the USA 1865-1992


African- American Civil Rights


Position in 1865 - 1900

·      4 million slaves at the start of the Civil War

·      Emancipated by the 13th amendment

·      Constitution says an African American is worth 2/3 of a white person

·      North don’t want blacks to be included in votes etc. – give South an advantage

·      States have the power to make their own legislation – dangerous for CR in South.


-       All former slaves should leave the USA

-       Should be given the same rights as whites

-       ‘Sharecropping’ – Former slaves returned to owners for a share of what was produced. Former slaves could move, marry and have children without them being taken away but still had limited liberty



Violence and segregation increased markedly


Post- war period characterised by uncertainty

Ø  Govt. unsure of what to do with millions of free

Ø  White population unsure how to react to further equality

Ø  African Americans were uncertain of their role and how to press for equality


What’s going to change?


-       WW1 & 2

-       Great Migration

-       Jazz Age


-       Du Bois

-       Washington

-       Marcus Garvey

-       Ida. B Wells


-       Niagara – NAACP

-       SNCC


W.E.B Du Bois


-       Had an idea that there should be an elite called the ‘talented tenth’ to lead African Americans to equality and integration

-       Appalled by lynching – 1700 were lynched 1885- 1894

-       Accepted alliance with white supporters

-       Founder member and only AA to hold office in NAACP (National Association for the Advancement of Colored People)

-       Recognised progress in CR movement -  by 1913 AA owned 40,000 businesses, literacy rates of 70%

-       Organised protest walk in NY in 1917, anticipating later CR marches

-       After 1919 racial violence, interests shift to international affairs and pan- Africanism (belief of solidarity among Africans globally)

-       Focused attention on publicising Civil Rights through media e.g. wrote for Crisis magazine

-       Interest in pan- Africanism shared by Marcus Garvey – DuBois radical, but not as radical as Garvey’s belief in sending AA ‘back’ to Liberia


So What?

·      Showed the importance of the role of the press in publicising CR

·      Showed variation in individual leadership of CR

·      However his radicalism led him along different paths – e.g. pan- Africanism

·      Didn’t believe in collective action – thought an ‘elite’ group should push for rights (Talented Tenth)

·      Talented orator, motivated groups to be proactive – precursor to Martin Luther King’s work

·      Motivating through passionate rhetoric, better than ‘dry rationalism’ of Washington

·      Because of differences between him and Washington, CR movement lost out with split of supporters and diverging leadership


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