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How Far Did The Position Of Black Americans Improve In The Years 1945 1955?

1798 words - 8 pages

Progression of black rights during 1945-1955 can be clearly seen but was a long and slow process, although the awareness of racial equality dramatically increased. Various factors were involved. Factors such as: presidential involvement and the use of media post WW2.We also see improvements in education and NAACP. More importantly how the NAACP and southern states responded to these factors, later shaping the result to black civil rights. During this time America saw two presidents come to power: Harry S. Truman (1945-1953) and Dwight D. Eisenhower (1953-1961). Both of which affected the civil rights movements in different ways.
Truman who was vice president to Roosevelt was elected ...view middle of the document...

These proposals split the party resulting in many Southerners leaving all together and later setting up their own “States Rights” (Dixiecrat Party) to contest the 1948 elections. Truman was described as having: “a strong sense of injustice over the civil rights issue” (Mooney and Bown, 1979, p. 13) and was not dissuaded in his goals. Truman now needed the black vote more than ever and was fully committed to the cause; on June 29th 1947 he gave this speech at the annual NAACP: “The only limit to an American’s achievement should be his ability, his industry and his character” (Truman, 1956 cited in Riches, 2004). This was arguably the strongest statement to be heard in Washington regarding civil rights since Lincoln’s time. Truman began the process of desegregating the armed forces and banned discrimination from federal employment. Later in 1951 Truman banned the awarding of defence contracts to companies still practicing discrimination within their employment process. He went on to strengthen the civil rights section of the Justice Department and names the first black to Federal Judgeship and appointed a black as Governor of the Virgin Islands. (Mooney and Bown, 1979).
With the enrolment of blacks into the American army due to the need for troops during WW2 the blacks got their first small taste of what desegregation could offer. Although this was only the case when serving on the frontline, blacks were considered equal to serving white Americans fighting beside them. During the rest of their service time they were still met with segregation through canteens, parades, church services and in the transportation of troops. It was at this point that many Black Americans reiterated and put forward the question “What was the point of fighting the racism of the Nazis if African –Americans were to suffer the “Hitler’s of Alabama, Georgia or Mississippi?”(Paterson, Willoughby and Willoughby, 2001, p. 98) The idea that racists in the south were now being compared to Hitler first came about in 1941 from Journalists who questioned the idea that America should involve itself at all in the war. (Paterson et al, 2001) As a result of the Journalist’s statement in 1941 the civil rights issue had begun receiving further national attention which continued its momentum during and after the war, perhaps even further paving the way for the likes of the NAACP and their plight.
The NAACP was founded in 1909 and was a product of the Niagara Movement; its aim was to use its faith in the constitution and American legal system to bring about the change and improvement for Black Americans. (Riches, 2004) Faced with accusations of communism the NAACP had become less involved with direct protest than it had previously been during the war but continued its efforts for improvement through legal challenges. Particular focus by the NAACP was put on Equal educational rights, Voter registration, fair employment and desegregation. In the past the NAACP had been successful in...

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