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 ¾ 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. In Alexandra in 1951 they protested at the fact that the local black school would close during the cotton harvest so that the black children could work in the fields. And in 1953 they organised a boycott of a newly built school in Lafayette protesting that its facilities were inferior to a local white school.