How far is it accurate to describe black Americans as second class citizens in the years 1945-55
Pre 1945, Truman??™s predecessor Roosevelt helped unemployment and ended slavery, so the black population switched from the republican vote to democratic and Truman needed to take action to keep the support. Black people in the south were treated worse than those in the North, which resulted in mass migration as there were more industrial jobs in the city, but even in the North the pay was still unequal and in the South especially, the economical, social and political aspects were significantly lower for Blacks as housing was substandard, all facilities and transport was segregated and there was more extreme racism but in the North there was no segregation on transport and in education but there were less job opportunities for the black unemployed people. In the South only 15% could vote but in the North the black population could determine the balance of power so more voted. Overall things were improving for black people in the North rather than the Southern states.After the Second World War, politics was dominated by the cold war- USSR and USA, communism versus capitalism respectively, the USA were in conflict as they believed communism was wrong and resulted in a lack of freedom, but in contradiction to this, freedom wasn??™t available for all in America either so there were elements of hypocrisy due to lack of equality.
Harry S Truman was a democrat and took presidential office from 1945-53. He was the first sympathetic president to civil rights. He understood that there were social developments in place and the black population began to have a voice such as organisations like the NAACP. Immobilised Black American soldiers were given the chance to have a college education and they had took advantage of this, they had also been treated like heroes in Europe but were unequal in the USA- Truman saw this was injustice and though they shouldn??™t be subject to racist attacks, which made them more motivated to take action. In connection to this, there was increased awareness of southern inequality due to more motor cars and televisions becoming more accessible, so campaigns were mobile and more recognised.
His reaction to this was ???the buck stops here??? meaning he was determined to get equal human rights for all citizens. The extent to which his motives were questionable as it can be argued he was well aware the black vote was of growing importance for the Democratic Party, so he knew he needed to gain their support. However having the President on side was a great step to making black and white citizens equal, and was one of the key steps to success for the Civil Rights movement, the other two being a Supreme Court and congress with pro-civil rights majority in the US constitution.
Truman took government action to help black people. In 1946, Truman established the President??™s Committee on Civil Rights; they produced a report ???To Secure These Rights??? which examined racial minorities in America, so that they could address these issues. Such problems included lynching (over 300 reported cases from 1882-1945), police brutality(barbaric beating, forced confessions when innocent), voting rights (in 1944 only 18% of black people in the South could vote), employment, education and health ( black people were paid less that whites even if educated, and medical schools refused to take black students and they had less doctors). The summary was that segregation was causing many problems, ???separate but equal??? did not exist as blacks did not receive equal treatment, and were seen as inferior to associate with white people.
Recommendations overall were that it was the job of the federal government to protect and advance civil rights for all Americans, and that the civil rights section of department of justice needed to be reorganised to enforce civil rights at local levels and organisations that discriminate should not be funded with racial equality monitored by committees. However the verdict was that recommendations were unrealistic as peoples??™ opinions cannot drastically be changed easily. But the report did raise awareness.
He also recognised that black campaigners such as Philip Randolph were telling soldiers to not go to war due to how they were treated, and he used his power to desegregate armed forces, under an exec. Order 9981 which guaranteed ???equality of treatment and opportunity for all???, this boosted the morale and confidence of soldiers which encouraged them to fight for America. The inauguration of Truman was also not segregated, which showed the immediate effect of his policies all around the world as he had publicity.
Truman also appointed William Hastie as the first black judge in relation to making opportunities fairer in employment and education. He also appointed Ralph Bunche as the American Ambassador of the United Nations; he mediated between the Israelis and Palestinians and won the Nobel peace prize for this in 1950. These government appointments impacted the psychology of the black and white citizens, they could all see that black people were beginning to get high positions of power and authority; this in turn would help secure more democratic black votes, as their fair opportunities were being shown to increase.
He used his federal power to ensure defence contracts would not go to companies that discriminated against blacks and signed the fair deal programme where which houses were built in poorer areas to address economic problems, with non segregated housing. Truman also signed the exec order of 9980 which would guarantee fair employment practices in the civil service.
In conclusion Truman was successful to a certain extend as he promoted equality in the armed forces and civil service by methods such as desegregation and gave better opportunities for black Americans, however, here are other cases where the FEPC were underfunded and the committee of the government contract compliance couldn??™t force fair employment practices on workers, and the fair deal housing programme was poorly constructed. So although there was a presidency and federal government committed to civil rights, and this improved the psychology of black citizens by fair employment equality in the civil service and companies, there was still no difference in the south where there was resistance from the state governments and initiatives for civil rights were still underfunded.
The NAACP- the National association for the advancement of coloured people were a popular protest group that fought segregation and wanted to enfranchise black people with rights , between 1939 and 42, their members had grown from 50,000 to 450,000 so by 45 they were well established.
Groups like these used methods involving both direct and indirect action.
In 1940-57 the CNO- Committee on Negro Organisation voter registration campaign in Arkansas was to encourage more black voters, in 1947, the NAACP boycotted New Orleans department stores, this achieved public protest and attention, this tactic was also used for schools as black schools closed during the cotton harvest and their schools were inferior to whites??™ schools facilities. The Journey of Reconciliation by CORE- Congress of Reconciliation had wanted to cause de facto (how law changes happened in practice) as de jure (changes in law) didn??™t lead to segregation, so they organised 16 black and white activists to sit in the wrong designated sections of buses, this proved that Southern States ignored the Supreme Court Ruling as 12 of them were arrested.
The CNO??™s Arkansas voter campaign increased black votes from 1.5% in 1940 to 17.3% in 1947. The NAACP lynching investigation squad was set up in 1946 which spread lawyers and investigators to collect evidence at the scenes of crime for court cases to exact justice on perpetrators; this resulted in the decline of lynching by 44 although it was common in 1940. But CORE??™s journey of reconciliation failed to forces desegregation on buses in the Southern States. The UDL bus boycott was also unsuccessful as they didn??™t persist long enough for media attention or to cause a financial deficit. However UDL and other campaigners learned from this and organised more effectively. The positive qualities were that the boycott included an entire black community in a city and CORE??™s journey of reconciliation and this demonstrated the use of non violent protest. Most importantly the protest gave the Black citizens more confidence and proved that making a stand against segregation was possible.
The indirect action the NAACP took were supporting people in their court cases to get the Supreme Court to take notice of the political incorrectness for black people. Such cases included the 1944 Smith v Alwright which concerned the voting rights of black people in Texas, they were allowed to vote in congressional elections but not primary elections- which were more important as it determined the winning candidate. The case was taken to the Supreme Court and the 15th amendment states that all citizens have the right to vote so the case was won and all white primary elections were outlawed throughout the whole of America.
In 1946, the case of Morgan v Virginia was regarding the segregation of interstate bus services, she was fined for not giving up her seat for a white person and she argued her constitutional rights were violated. This was taken to the Supreme Court and her case was won, segregation on transport was ruled illegal.
In 1950, Sweatt v Painter was a case about a black student wanting to study law, but was refused admission in Texas, a new law school was built for black students only, but this was shown to be inferior to the white school so Sweatt was able to register for the Texas law school and so the case was a success.
The Brown vs. Board of Education of Topeka in 1954 showed how black children weren??™t being provided with an adequate education, and that segregation had a negative effect on black children. It was recognised that southern states failed to provide an education and the racist education system didn??™t??™ reflect on the ideals on America, so the decision was reached due to a change in leadership of the Supreme Court, Earl Warren replaced the deceased judge and he was much more sympathetic so used his authority to persuade desegregation. This case was a major stepping stone for black people, however there was a lot of white backlash, southern racists were provoked, like the KKK and white citizens council. The case was re opened for Brown II in 1955 as desegregation was not happening fast enough especially in southern states so it was argued a timetable needed to be implemented. The Brown case also demonstrated how the new President Eisenhower (from 1953) was unwilling to help, and showed how de jure change had little de facto change in the Southern states especially.
In conclusion, although there had been vast improvements and black people came a long way, to a certain extent they were still mostly treated like second class citizens. This was because even though the attitudes of people were changing and black people were gaining the confidence to fight for their rights, the attitudes of white racists couldn??™t immediately be altered. The Supreme Court working in their favour as the constitution was being challenged and black people were more educated and able to fight and use the system to improve their status in the country as equal citizens. But this proved to not be enough as with the Brown II case.
Things were on the verge of improving, especially with Truman but with a new president, Dwight D Eisenhower who had a completely different outlook on the situation, there was no federal support to put change into effect. Eisenhower??™s views of de jure change producing no de facto change did contain truth and he was in a difficult position, but he chose to not interfere and said it would happen over time which is better than provoking white resistance and giving black people false hope as those, especially in the south would not change their views instantly. Therefore changes by the federal government were at a halt, so by the 1955 the black population were treated as second class citizens, predominantly in the south over the north where people were much more accepted and used to desegregation.
How far is it accurate to describe black Americans as second class citizens in the years 1945-55