To what extent did the position of black Americans improve by the end of the Second World War?

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To what extent did the position of black Americans improve by the end of the Second World War?

In 1865 the confederate states of the south joined the northern American states to make the United States of America. The south had been rooted in slavery and still had an extremely racist attitude, the North was not as extreme but African Americans were still seen as lower class citizens. In 1896 the Plessy vs. Ferguson case ruled that segregation was constitutional as long as ‘separate but equal’ facilities were maintained. This was not the case though; public facilities for black people were consistently lower than that of whites. The decision also gave the de facto Jim Crow laws legal standing.

The Second World War broke out in 1939, mainly considered a European war but America joined in 194? . The Second World War was a turning point in the history of civil rights, many Americans did not know much about the world outside their country and few knew that Racism and segregation was not as much of an issue in other countries. The war gave African American soldiers, as well as White soldiers the chance to see how the rest of the world lived, to see the differences between the societies and also was America’s chance to prove they were a good country and gain a good reputation.

Socially there was an extreme change during the war years, as a result of agricultural machinery many African Americans moved north in search of work, they found the north much more tolerating than the southern states such as Alabama and Texas. There was not de jure segregation however there was a degree of segregation socially, not enforced by law but an accepted situation. The move increased black urbanism and again exposed African Americans to different situations; they had accesses to more facilities and this lead to increased self awareness. The increased consciousness lead to more activism, membership of NAACP increased from 50,000 to 450, 000 during war years. Entertainment industries also saw a rise in African American entertainers again raising black consciousness and getting African Americans into places with a high public profile, gaining them more respect. African Americans and white people began to integrate more as a result of war; however it was not all a success. The sudden move of African Americans to the north states caused tension between the races in some areas, the population of Chicago doubled during the war, the migration of African Americans contributing to this greatly. There was jealousy from White people believing African Americans were getting above their status, using facilities there were not entitled to use.

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Economically there were more jobs available to African Americans, machinery replaced workers in farming states but work in armament and other war jobs were created in the north, the demand for extra workers gave black people more power, for once they were needed to work alongside white people, although many employers still segregated workers. Again there was jealousy from white people as they thought African Americans were stealing their jobs. This led to violence from white workers such as at the Alabama Dry Dock Company, where African American workers were attacked over blacks and whites working in such close ...

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