How Far Did the Position of Black Americans Improve in the Years 1945-1955?
The US military involvement in WW2 was to have a lasting effect on civil rights and racist attitudes.The conflict brought on many changes that would highlight African American civil rights, for example it created many jobs for black people, not only in the defence industry but also to meet growing labour demand.Although between 1945-1955 there was indefinitely progress made for the position of black Americans, there were also limitations to that progress.
The population of cities in the north such as Detroit grew dramatically as black people migrated during the war.
Although there was a lot more availability of employment for African American’s, they would often find they were discriminated against, for instance not receiving equal pay to white workers. Employers would usually use the principle ‘Last to be hired, first to be fired. ’ It was a rarity for African Americans to be promoted as when they it would follow with walk outs and riots from white workers.
In order to prevent the march on Washington movement, President Roosevelt agreed to set up the Fair Employment Practices Commission in order to accommodate equal opportunities for black people in defence industry jobs. This also led to increase in labour jobs, there was a 25% increase in African Americans working in the iron and steel industry. The numbers employed in government service increased from 50,000 to 200,000. However it had its limitations, railroads usually refused to hire black people and in the Deep South prejudice remained on employment issues.
The NAACP campaigned to challenge the ‘Plessy v. Ferguson’ doctrine. Inequality was easily spotted in education. For example research showed that the pupil-teacher ratio was 20% better in white schools than in back, in addition to this white teachers generally receiveda much larger salary in comparison to a black teacher. The NAACP proceeded to sue on behalf of black students, which eventually resulting in the ‘Brown v. Board of Education’ legal case.
Following the Brown case, Earl Warren who was the current Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, agreed that not only was segregation in education demoralising for African Americans, but segregation in general too. However this stirred up protest in the south. The White Citizens council formed the ‘Southern Manifesto’ in order to fight the brown case. There was also slow progress to the integration of public schools as The Supreme Court had not set a time limit, instead it had stated progression to e done with ‘deliberate speed. ’ There was also no action enforced by President Eisenhower who was reluctant to avoid stirring further opposition. Altogether, there was progress in economic status for African Americans. Due to the creation of trade unions and activist groups, something was finally being done about inequality for Blacks. However this gentle action was often faced with forceful opposition, or simply not enough being done, therefore hindering progress.