In what ways did the social, political and economic status of black Americans vary across the United States at the end of the Second World War?
The social, political and economic status of black Americans varied across the United States. They faced discrimination and segregation from the prejudiced white Americans. However things started to change; organisations were set up to help improve the position of black Americans in society. Black Americans were treated differently in the north and south. In the south, blacks were used as slaves as they were shipped over from Africa. They worked in rural areas and were treated as second class citizens.
The economic status includes wealth, jobs, wages, education, qualifications, trade unions, discrimination and migration.
In the north, there were more and more people, from the south moving up before and during the war. From 1940 to 1945, 5 years, the population of Chicago went up from 277,000 to 491,000 and the population of San Francisco rose from 4,800 to 32,000. The main reason for this is the creation of jobs in defence industries meant that black people moved to meet the labour demand. In 1940 most black Americans still lived in the south but many were on the move. For black women it meant that there was a wider variety of economic opportunities; they could work in other industries rather than just in the domestic service.
Black Americans and white Americans did not receive equal pay or anywhere near it. Black Americans were seen as inferior workers and people and did not deserve the same amount of money as the superior whites. In 1941 A. Philip Randolph suggested a march on Washington by thousands of black people to challenge employment policies of the Federal Government. Only 10% of contractors employed black people in 1940. Roosevelt did not want the march on Washington so he agreed to set up the FECP (Fair Employment Practices Commission) to try to gain equality of opportunity for black people when it came to defence industry jobs. It had some effect. Black people were employed in aircraft factories for the first time ever and there was a 25% increase in those working in steel and iron industries. The only contractors that refused to employ black people were the railroads.