changing attitudes to the race issue in the USA, 1930-2000

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why was there so much racial inequality in the USA between 1930 and 1945?

segregation and the 'Jim Crow' laws

in the south

  • strict segregation
  • imposed through the 'Jim Crow' laws
  • segregated black people in public places
  • black people prevented from voting or had to pass literacy or other tests to do so
  • Scottsboro trials showed the injustice when 8 black boys were convicted of ****** 2 white females on very circumstantial evidence

in the north

  • did not have segregation laws
  • racism was still commonplace
  • 1920s- thousands of black workers migrated from the south to cities in search of work
  • known as the great migration
  • given low paid jobs
  • tended to live in squalid tenement ghettos
  • were improvements for some
  • jazz brought fame to black singers and muscians
  • black neighbourhood of Harlem in New York became the centre of the Harlem Renaissance for black singers, musicians, artists, writers and poets


  • formed in 1909 by William Du Bois
  • active in fighting against racial injustice throughout the 1930s and 1940s
  • during the 1920s it had campaigned against lynching and was the main opponent of the Ku Klux Klan
  • 1930- successfully blocked the nomination of Judge John Parker, a known racist, to be appointed to the Supreme Court
  • during the war the NAACP pressured Roosevelt into ordering a non-discriminatory policy in war related industries and federal employment
  • employed black lawyer Thurgood Marshall to fight against segregation in education, secured equal salaries for teachers
  • supreme court ruled that blacks had the right to the same quality of graduate education as whites

the ku klux klan

  • mid 1860s- founded
  • members had to be WASPS (white, anglo saxon, protestants), anti communist, anti jewish, anti catholic and agaisnt all foreigners
  • dressed in white robes and white hoods- symbolise white supremacy and conceal identity
  • used terror and violence to intimidate anybody who supported equal rights
  • strong in the southern states
  • reached a peak in mid 1920s
  • 1925- prosecution of Klan leader caused sharp fall in membership
  • powerful grip on how many southern states were run
  • members included police officers, lawyers and judges
  • many politicians knew that if they opposed the klan they might not be elected to congress
  • despite decline remained active and powerful

impact of the depression and the new deal

  • blacks last to be hired, first to be fired
  • black farmers and sharecroppers forced off the land
  • new deal provided jobs for black americans
  • PWA allocated funds for building of black hospitals, universities and housing projects
  • FERA granted aid to black american families
  • number of black americans employed by the government rose
  • did little to eliminate unfair hiring practices and job discrimination
  • failed to support anti lynching bills

the jim crow army

  • in the army there were black only units which formed the jim crow army
  • pre 1944- black soldiers not allowed into combat in the marines
  • navy could only accept blacks as mess men
  • US air force would not accept black pilots until the formation of an African American 322nd Fighter Group (Tuskegee…


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