Essay: The experience of black people was that they were treated in their own country as if they were not Americans at all, 1920 - 1930

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V. Prodan        GCSE History Coursework

Essay: “The experience of black people was that they were treated in their own country as if they were not Americans at all”

Reference: 1920 – 1930

Black people were first imported to America as slaves in the 17th century.  In 1865 they gained freedom from slavery by the 13th Amendment to the Constitution.  However, did this mean that black people were equally treated by all the respectable citizens of the United States?

This essay focuses mainly on the 1920 – 1930 period when America was a prosperous nation and black Americans were supposedly free.  It examines whether they were treated unequally to the rest of the American population and seeks to find a reasonable conclusion.

Firstly, black Americans were not treated with equality in their country as they were segregated from “white” facilities and were denied of an education.  Negroes were not allowed to dine in restaurants for white people, they were treated in separate hospitals from white patients, moreover their blood was kept separately by the Red Cross (until the 1940s) and they were not even allowed to drink out of the same water fountains white people drank from.  The denial of education was a way of keeping blacks “in their place” which meant that black people were given the poorest educational standards and the lowest paid jobs.  The Southern parts of the USA were particularly segregated.  In transport, black people usually sat at the back, away from the white people.  They also had to give up their seats for white people if there was not enough room.  Black and white Americans were segregated in neighbourhoods.  As the book To Kill a Mockingbird implies, black people never had justice shown to them even in courts as juries, judges and lawyers were always white and usually showed no empathy to a black person.  Intermarriage between black and white people was prohibited in many states, armed forces were also segregated and even the capital, Washington DC, had seen hard segregation.

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There were also laws in the south which prevented African-Americans from being treated equally as their fellow white citizens.  These were the “Jim Crow” laws.  “Jim Crow” was an abusive and insulting term – much the same as “nigger”. These laws saw to it that segregation was legal and ensured that blacks could be exploited as well as shown brutal treatment.

When black people were permitted to go to war, it seemed that they were being treated as Americans, which contradicts the statement that they were not.  Nevertheless, this ray of hope had its limits: the soldiers were kept in ...

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