To what extent were African Americans treated as second-class citizens in the states between 1940 and 1946?

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To what extent were African Americans treated as “second-class citizens” in the states between 1940 and 1946?

In this essay, I will discuss the extent to which African Americans were treated as second-class citizens in the period of 1940 to 1946. I will analyse the political, social and economic factors in the north and south of the USA during this time that caused African Americans to be cited as second-class citizens.

A second-class citizen is a person who is discriminated against, despite being a citizen or legal resident of the country they reside in. They have restricted legal and civil rights, and are usually subject to the effects of segregation and disenfranchisement.

Before World War Two, in the south, only 2% of the black population voted in the election. After the war, this increased to 15%. The war opened up the eyes of both black and white people alike, that the war on discrimination they had fought and won in Europe, had not been won at home. Men and women saw the heroic feats of black soldiers in the war, and noticed that they had the same patriotism and dedication as the white soldiers. In turn, this caused people to become more open to the idea that black people were not subhuman, but equal citizens fighting for their liberty. This indicates that African Americans faced less discrimination at home, and that they were no longer viewed as second-class citizens by those at home. However, the Jim Crow laws put a poll tax in place, of $16.50, that many black people could not afford due to the high rate of unemployment within their population. This limited the political influence that African Americans had, even though they had gained more rights. Another factor impacting the political power of black people in the south was that many states issued a “literacy test” that African Americans had to complete and answer correctly to earn the right to vote. The questions on the test were often impossible to answer, intentionally, so that the black population could not vote and have their say in the political world. This shows us that many of the authoritative figures of the southern states were still racist, and had no intention to let “second-class citizens” have the vote.

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In the North, conditions were mostly the same, and even if the individual could vote, it was not certain that sympathetic representatives would be elected. In 1945, only 2 African Americans were elected to congress,  William Dawson  and Adam Powell. This shows that the opinion of African Americans was not equally represented in government, and that no significant change could truly be made by voting, even in the improving conditions of the northern states.

Socially, in the south, African Americans continued to receive the unfair treatment they always had. The Jim Crow laws declared that society may be “separate ...

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