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Why did the social, economic and political status of black Americans vary across the United States in the 1940s and 50s?

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Introduction

Why did the social, economic and political status of black Americans vary across the United States in the 1940s and 50s? By Ali Gosling For blacks living in America during the 1940's and 1950's, there was much discrimination socially, politically and economically. Life varied a great deal depending on when and where they lived, with the racist majority in the South and a supposedly 'equal' ruling in the North controlling how the blacks were treated. Also, in the 1940's, black organisations such as the NAACP was set up to give a voice to Coloured people, so their opinions would be noticed. Along with President Eisenhower and President Trumans' political role, this changed the situation for blacks from 1940 to 1960. During the Second World War, most blacks were employed within the armed forces or the defence industry to fight against Germanys fascist movement. However, the blacks were also greatly discriminated against in a segregated US army. Given lower ranked positions and worse conditions, the blacks were never promoted to the role of sergeant or general. This was due to the racist tension felt in America before the war. Even the living quarters and equipment (e.g. drinking fountains), were separated between the whites and blacks. This injustice infuriated black organisations and civil rights groups as the black soldiers were doing the same job as the whites, yet they were still being discriminated for it. ...read more.

Middle

PAINTER ruled that blacks must be allowed to attend Texas Law School. These improvements were not all achieved in Truman's time, President Eisenhower also played a key part in three events during the 1950's. The BROWN ruling of 1954, the Montgomery Bus Boycott in 1956 and the incident at Little Rock High School in 1957 led to desegregation in education and in public transport. This made a big difference to blacks everyday lives in America and sent a message to whites, showing that desegregation was fighting its way into an unequal and unjust country. The 2nd World War, President Truman and the growing civil rights movements and its organisations were all key factors in this advance. It was not just time that varied the status of the blacks in America. The division geographically also played a big part in how the blacks were treated. As a generalisation, it was said that the north was much more sympathetic towards the lives of blacks and did a lot more than the south to create an equal society. The 1920s and 30s had already seen a shift of blacks from South to North. As more military industry was needed during World War Two, many blacks moved to the industrial cities of the north and west for guaranteed work and wages. This 'Great Migration' saw over 500 000 relocate in just 4 years. ...read more.

Conclusion

Just 3% of blacks were registered to vote in 1940, but this was raised to 23% by 1959. This showed the blacks of America that the southern states were slowly becoming more like the equal northern states. So although the status of black people was not yet completely equal to whites in any part of the USA, the north was generally a better and safer place for blacks to live in for social, economic and political reasons between 1940 and 1960. In conclusion, it is seen that the status of black Americans differed greatly throughout the USA during the 1940's and 50's. Advances were made socially, with the introduction of desegregated education with the BROWN ruling of 1954, economically with 11 states and 20 cities having fair employment laws by 1952, and also politically with the number of blacks eligible to vote gradually increasing during the 20 year period. Changes were made and laws were gradually passed to encourage an equal society so the conditions so the status of blacks was better in 1960 than it was in 1940. This was due to Presidents Truman and Eisenhower and the black organisations focused on improving the civil rights situation. The divided feeling geographically also gave a differing status for blacks, with the north setting an example to the south of the beginnings of an equal society. 2 1 ...read more.

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