How far do you agree that the years 1945-55 saw only limited progress in improving the status of African Americans? The years 1945-55 can be described as ‘seeds of change’ in improving the African American people’s position in society as their lives saw slight improvements however nothing drastic happened that changed their economic, political and social status immediately in America. Before 1945, during the second world war, conditions of life for black American’s was slightly improving in the northern states with there being less institutional racism and more equal job opportunities with acceptable pay for everyone. However in the south, conditions were very different; Jim Crow Laws meant that deep racial divides were being enforced throughout most states. Segregation was seen as lawful due to the Plessy vs. Ferguson case saying that ‘separate but equal’ was how they should live their lives.
In the South, $4.5billion was spent creating factories that produced war goods. At first, black Americans were unable to get jobs in the war industry due to racism. A. Philip Randolph threatened to campaign against the government unless they forced industries to change. So Roosevelt created the Fair Employment Practices Commission in 1941 which forced industries not to discriminate on the grounds of ‘race, creed, colour or national origin’ when deciding who to employ. This allowed many Black Americans to get jobs and played a major role in the country’s war effort.
They had jobs such as railroad track layers, brick layers, grave diggers; fruit, vegetable and cotton pickers, doormen, elevator operators.Almost 1 million black farm workers lost their jobs, many moved to the cities where they shared similar experiences with the immigrants; low paid jobs and poor housing conditions.In the northern states, decent jobs went to the white population and discrimination was just as common in the north as it was in the South and many black families lived in ghettoes in the cities in very poor conditions. On the other hand one reason that black Americans did benefit as before the war less than 2% of the population in the southern states could vote but by 1945 around 15% of black Americans in the southern states had been registered to vote. Another reason that the black Americans did not share in the economic boom was that the living situations for them was appalling. 40% of housing available to black Americans in Washington DC was found to be sub standard where as only 12% of white housing fell into this category however as a result of boom the amount of unemployed black Americans fell. It fell from 937,000 to 151,000.
Other states introduced literacy tests as criteria for voting. Literacy testes were not applied fairly and therefore even educated black people were disenfranchised. These were not explicitly racist, but both prevented black Americans from voting. These barriers, which prevented black Americans from voting, meant that black citizens no longer had a voice for their opinion to be heard. This affected how black people would still be treated as second-class citizens through white supremacy.
However, generally the Northern blacks were somewhat better off than the Southern blacks in 1945. In 1945, African Americans in the North had different conditions then the South. Firstly, there were political differences. Only 15% of black people in the southern states had the right to vote. Black people had the legal right to vote as there were measures that were put into place to prevent the south African Americans from voting by using the poll tax and literacy tests.
Also, the vast majority of black Americans were disenfranchised by grandfather clauses and literacy tests which made it very hard for black Americans to vote. Finally the Ku Klux Klan terrorised black Americans using techniques such as lynching. By contrast in the Northern States, segregation was rare. What is more, Black Americans has greater access to higher-paid industrial jobs and many were organised in unions. However, on average black workers earned 50% less than their white counterparts.
These voting restrictions were challenged in the Mississippi vs Williams Supreme Court case but it was maintained that the restrictions did not go against the 15th amendment and so they continued. These high levels of illiteracy and poverty among African Americans would have been caused, or at least not helped, by the smaller amount of funding provided for African American institutions. This went against the separate but equal principle and may have contributed to high illiteracy levels which prevented voting. Also, the family income of an African American family was four times less
In the case of the colonized of African decent, implementing a system of dehumanization very easily compared to the holocaust, where the system was being implemented on fellow whites. So the question I ask is; is the experience of the colonized and the Jews during the holocaust the same? To the answer this question, we can start with a look to racial identity. Racial identity is characterized as which racial background with which you most identify yourself. The Colonizers had a European or white racial identity, so implementing a system on people they thought were not their racial equals was less difficult.
This was to stop the two races from mixing and to prevent the dilution of the African Americans into the white culture and their everyday lives. This however doesn’t mean that this was necessarily a time of disappointment for the African Americans. This is because they were used to this treatment and much worse, so this segregation would not have been anything new; thus meaning there was no disappointment other than the fact that there had been no improvement. The north also was extremely segregated, no better than the south. They weren’t allowed to live near white people in the cities so they lived in ghettos, completely segregated from the rest of the world.
One belief portrayed by the American Dream is that the United States is essentially classless, and the differences that do exist are not due to economic standing because regardless of your economic standing everyone is offered equal opportunities by the law. But this belief, along with many painted by the American Dream is a mere myth. All Americans do not receive the same, equal opportunities, people do not pick to be poor or to struggle with their everyday lives because they are not offered any