Position of African-Americans before 1945:
- Jim Crow laws rife in southern states (de jure segregation)
- Whites and blacks not allowed to use same parks, same drinking fountains, sit together on public transport, etc.
- Public lynchings common >> between 1882-1968 there were 4,730 of these
- Doctrine of 'separate but equal' established after Plessy v Ferguson (1896) >> this was a justification for the Jim Crow laws for many years
- NAACP established 1909 >> had 6,000 members by 1914 >> influential in winning the right for black citizens to serve in WW1 >> led many racism-related lawsuits inlcuding Guinn v United States (1915) which abolished the 'grandfather clauses' of voting rights for blacks
- So, getting there but on the whole things were rubbish!
- After WW2 things were improving a little: 2 black members of Congress (William Dawson and Adam Clayton Powell)
- Truman became president 1945 (originally a confederate racist and had been so moved by stories of black veterans in WW2 he changed his views), set up Liberal Civil Rights Committee in 1946 and they published 'To secure these rights' in 1947 >> after this they set up a Federal Anti-Lynching Legislation, made Roosevelt's FEPC permanent, legal attack on segregated housing, established US Commission on Civil Rights, admin support…