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How far did the position of black Americans improve during the years 1945-1955?

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Introduction

How far did the position of black Americans improve during the years 1945-1955? One of the main issues regarding black Americans lives was one of segregation. Many blacks had travelled from the segregated south to the north during the period, searching for a better life, almost 3/4 of a million had by the end of the war. President Truman established a committee to investigate race relations and to safeguard the rights of minorities. The report of this committee was published in 1947 was called 'To Secure These Rights'. It called for many drastic changes to be made to the law including changes to black voting rights, reduce lynching by introducing new legislation and to end segregated facilities such as schools and public toilets. However, limited action was taken in southern areas, but this report did put Civil Rights on the political agenda. During 1945-55 black Americans developed the tactics of direct action; a form of protest involving large groups of people and draws public attention to injustice. The National Association for the Advancement of Coloured People (NAACP) organised a series of protests in the southern state of Louisiana. For example they picketed New Orleans' four biggest department stores for refusing to allow black customers to try on hats. ...read more.

Middle

Their first successful challenge to segregation in education came in 1950. The NAACP argued that Heman Sweatt, a black student wanting to study law, was entitled to an education equal to that of whites at the Law school. The Texan courts decided that they did not have to integrate the white Law school and instead set up a law school for blacks. The NAACP rejected this and went to the Supreme Court; they argued that the new law school was inferior. The Supreme Court agreed and ordered the University of Texas Law School to accept Sweatt as a student. There was then the case of Brown vs. Topeka in 1954. The case revolved around whether the Board of Education for Topeka, Kansas had violated the Fourteenth Amendment rights of Linda Brown by the failure to provide her with an elementary education close to her own home. The nearest school to her home was an all-white segregated school and she would have to go 20 blocks away to get to the nearest black school. The lawyer used by the NAACP to present this case was again Thurgood Marshall, who was later to become the first black Supreme Court justice. ...read more.

Conclusion

Even those not openly racist were reluctant to support Truman's civil rights reforms. President Eisenhower believed that desegregation could not be forced upon the south and as such believed that change would happen in time and that it wasn't the president's place to enforce that change. Southern state governments, judges and police resisted change and used their power to intimidate campaigning for integration. Southern white racists were also well organised and reacted quickly and effectively to ensure the court rulings were ignored. Finally, groups such as the NAACP and CORE had not yet perfected their methods and so couldn't affect the civil rights movements as much as desired. In conclusion, during the period 1945-1955, campaigning methods had changed dramatically, the most common being the use of the Supreme Court to overrule southern state governments decisions however once again these de jure victories didn't produce de facto desegregation. As a result groups such as CORE and the NAACP organised campaigns to test the implementation of these and demanded a time frame to force the southern authorities to comply with the courts rulings. Despite these efforts, the process of desegregation was slow but it was happening. ...read more.

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