Why was Progress for Racial Equality so slow in the years 1945-1955?
Why was Progress for Racial Equality so slow in the years 1945-1955?
Any progress for racial equality during the period of 1945-1955 faced a series of problems, both through the Government and legal means and the American public, slowing down and limiting its affect overall during this time period. Any effect of measures for racial equality were also limited for the same reasons, making the development of racial equality on the whole incredibly slow.
Presidents of America during this time period played their own part in slowing down progress. Truman (1945-53) in principle may not have been racist man that does not mean however that his stance on civil rights was in favour of racial equality. His attitude towards their plight was seemingly ignorant and his own awareness for his need for the southern vote made him wary to bring about change. His committee on civil rights in 1946 outlined only basic requirements for all Americans but even that failed to pass congress.
Eisenhower (1953-61) contributed to the progress of racial equality during this period even less. His intervention in the state of Arkansas on the issue of Little Rock can be seen as progress as Federal Government interfered with states on the issue of racial equality but it was clearly not enough for the cause and attitudes like this of top politicians slowed down any progress in the development overall.
Any additional help that could come through Government needed the placement of politicians willing to help racial equality, especially in the Deep South, but a lack of black voters in these states left clearly racist politicians with no intention of changing the racist laws that governed their state. The increase in voters during this period was not enough to sway the vote away from racist politicians and any progress in this way was clearly going to be a slow process.
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The system of Government in the USA runs on the premise of a Federal Government and individual State Governments. This system in itself had a way of slowing down progress. Any laws made by the federal Government are first passed by a two third majority of states to enable to be a national law, making this process in itself slow and giving the white, racist Southern states more control of national laws for racial equality.
States themselves also protested on the grounds of state rights, based on the principle that they should be able to determine their own policies at state level. Individual states, especially in the South, were prominent in instating this belief in their legal system, slowing down any progress and making it difficult for the federal Government to intervene on this issue nationally.
During this time, in order to contest laws already in place against racial equality, or prove something is racially unequal or unfair, they had to be brought through courts of appeal, eventually ending up at the Supreme Court. This was a long and arduous process, making the process of contesting anything strung-out overall.
Progress for racial equality didn’t just come through the courts or the intervention of Government, the opinion of the American public was very important during this time, not only because changing public opinion helped with racial equality but also because racist public opinion was something slowing down and stopping racial equality during these years.
Even if white Americans were becoming aware of black equality (through the use of television, the car and overall public opinion regarding human rights) and this level publicity for the cause helped, white racist opinion resistant to change in the south was becoming more prominent in the post war years. A strong anti-communist feeling after the war also added to the resistant of civil rights protesters and they were often unfairly linked, resulting, in some cases, heavy resistance to NAACP activities, slowing down progress of individual civil rights groups such as the NAACP and Scope.
Fear as an issue itself was a very major obstacle in the way of racial equality and it showed itself to be highly versatile in slowing or even stopping progress in most areas. As well as politicians and the federal Government fearing the loss of voters on the issue of civil rights, black Americans themselves were often fearful of farthing the progress, participating or even registering to vote. In Mississippi a staggering 95% of all black workers were employed by whites, making them extremely fearful of losing their jobs as a result in participate for racial equality.
The presence of the KKK during this period also increased fear. Fear of persecution slowed down not only the participants in the cause of racial equality but also willingness to enforce any legal action aiding civil rights or even registration to vote and enable politicians to assist in this matter.
Clearly the lack of back participants for civil rights slowed down the cause but so did its lack of unity on the whole. There were several prominent civil rights groups active during this period aiding the cause for racial equality but they all differ on issues of method and calmative leadership on the issue of racial equality at a national level wasn’t there. The presence of one black leader in the campaign for civil rights could of speeded up the process, increasing not only participation of blacks but also helping to change the opinion of white resisters.
Actual progress on racial equality during this period shows itself how slow and limited the process clearly was as well as the effect of progress. Any actual advancement by the Government was slowed by the American public opinion (mainly racist public opinion) and even progress with American public opinion can be seen to of been slowed by a reluctant Government.
The Brown vs. Board of Education, Topeka (1954) for example can be seen as a landmark case for racial equality. The case outlined and proved black inequality within the education system and the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court (Earl Warren) decreed that the admission of all children on equal terms into public schools was required, creating an important precedent on the matter of racial equality. But even with a case such as this progress was extremely slow, the period itself from when the petition was initially signed to when it came to the Supreme Court was drawn out for years.
The outcome of the case didn’t mean, however, that the problem was then solved and that the progress, however slow, helped massively during the years 1945-1955. The process of desegregation was not only then faced by white racists protesting against but also an unwillingness of black population mainly due to fear for blacks to attempt to even follow this ruling, slowing down the actual affect this law had on racial equality and its overall progress.
To summarise any one problem which as more significant throughout this period in slowing down the process of racial equality isn’t to say that just one issue was more important than any other but to show how the presence of fear at every stage of the campaign for racial equality was present and having the biggest detrimental affect. This problem of fear throughout the years 1945-1955 in not only present every stage of advancement (courts, government, politicians) but also can be seen as the most prominent problem in slowing down the process, then in turn progress, of racial equality.
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This is a good answer that focused well on the question throughout and shows a strong understanding of what slowed progress. The conclusion and introduction could both be improved.