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  1. Post-Reconstruction

  2. The South – legal status • Majority African Americans remained in the South • Post-1890 southern state and local govt. controlled by white Democrats • Disenfranchisement devices – poll taxes, literacy tests, white primary elections – removed southern blacks of their political rights e.g. Louisiana 130,000 voters 1896, 5,000 1898 • 1890-1910 segregation by law in almost all public facilities: system named Jim Crow • Plessy vs. Ferguson (1896) Supreme Court Case reasoned mandating separate facilities, as long as they were equal, did not violate the 14th Amendment

  3. The South – social status • In addition to legal restrictions, African Americans expected to conform to rigid code of racial etiquette • Blacks required to enter houses of whites and most public buildings by the side or rear door • Encounters with whites required specific greetings (‘Sir’, ‘Mister’, ‘Miz’) • Failure to conform to this system could result in lynching: • Between 1882 and 1930 at least 3295 blacks were lynched in the US • Murder or rape often cited as justification, but occurred for many other reasons: attempting to vote, talking back to white person, economic success

  4. The South - economic status • 1st half century most blacks remained in the rural South as sharecroppers and farm laborers, some as renters or owners • Scarcely affected by industrialisation: most factory jobs reserved for poor whites • Constituted a class of oppressed and impoverish peasantry – denied upward mobility and full rights of citizenship

  5. What caused these changes? • Withdrawal Northern troops 1877 • Decline of Populist Party (political alliance between poor white southerners and blacks)1896 • Growth of racism in the North (conservative social Darwinism)

  6. The North • Retained civil rights, including right to vote and right to hold office • However, no adequate defence against extralegal discrimination denying equal access to jobs, housing, education, police protection and public amenities

  7. Black response South • Opposition to black political rights massive and unyielding therefore… • Dominant ideology accommodationist, condoned social segregation, stressed economic self-help, deferred aspirations for full citizenship North • Protest movement, modeled on pre-Civil War abolitionism, rejected accommodationism and called for end of enforced segregation, disenfranchisement, all publicly sanctioned discrimination • 1909 creation of National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP)

  8. The Great War (WWI) • Combination economic boom and restriction European immigration provided new employment opportunities for blacks in the North • The ‘Great Migration’ – massive shift black popl. from South to North, from country to city • 500,000 moved North between 1915 and 1920, 1 million in following decade • Established new institutions such as storefront churches • Centres of African American culture: black newspapers, jazz and blues night clubs, literary salons

  9. Effects of the Great Migration • Profound effect race relations: discrimination housing market and preference to live in ethnic neighborhoods produced urban ghettos • North not the promised land: find and keep decent jobs, violence in struggle for living space, racial discrimination + social and cultural adjustment from country to city • According to Alain Locke = creation of “a New Negro” • Harlem Renaissance – literary and artistic movement development cultural identity • Black artists and writers openly embraced their folk culture and African past – raised political consciousness and increased black cultural pride: “In the very process of being transplanted, the Negro is being transformed.”

  10. Garvey movement • Marcus Garvey, a black Jamaican, brought his Universal Negro Improvement Association (UNIA) to Harlem 1916 = largest African American secular organisation at that time • Claimed more than 1,000,000 members, mostly in black communities of urban North • Garvey a black nationalist – sought to raise political consciousness, race pride, economic power: pan-African philosophy • In 1922, after failure of one UNIA business, the Black Star Line, Garvey convicted of mail fraud, imprisoned, deported = movement declined • Garvey’s ideas later influence Nation of Islam and Black Power Movement 1960s

  11. Positive changes • Despite racial inequalities, economic and educational opportunities were normally greater • Less repressive environment gave blacks political space to air grievances and mount protest movements • Regained right to vote in the North = politicians began to appeal to black interests • NAACP functioning as legislative lobby, blacks in 1930s able to block confirmation of racist judge to Supreme Court, came close to getting federal antilynching law through Congress

  12. Positive changes • Developed first significant ties to organised labour: joined nondiscriminatory unions in auto manufacturing, steel • WWII labour shortages, pressures from black organisations and movements, and federal policy encouraging nondiscriminatory hiring brought substantial increase in proportion of blacks in steady, relatively skilled jobs • Gap between incomes of whites and black began to close

  13. Race relations • Increased membership in 1920s, 30s, including significant white membership • Many white Americans felt tension between subordination of the Negro and Jeffersonian ideal • American blacks affected by both these strands: lighter skinned blacks looked down on those darker than themselves, but also knew were being treated unjustly

  14. The Great Depression • Slowed migration to cities • Blacks remained at bottom of economic ladder during 1920s, hit hard by the depression • In cities black unemployment reached over 50%, more than twice national average • Cotton prices dropped, forcing thousands sharecroppers off land and into greater poverty • 1929-32 depression worsened: Herbert Hoover responded slowly, employing a ‘trickle-down’ approach that benefited few working class Americans

  15. Increasing politicisation • In face of unrelieved suffering, blacks explored new political solutions • Some became Communists or Socialists, some embraced fledgling Congress of Industrial Organizations (newly open to African Americans) • In 25 cities organised “Don’t Buy Where You Can’t Work” campaigns to force more equitable hiring practices • But, election Franklin Delano Roosevelt meant many looked to government for support

  16. The New Deal • Collection of federal programmes (e.g. Social Security) created by FDR to bring relief, recovery, and reform to the economy and the nation • Majority blacks moved allegiance from Republican to Democrat • Mixed record of New Deal on race • Federal restrooms, cafeterias, and secretarial pools were desegregated, increased number African Americans in second-level positions on Capitol Hill (Black Cabinet) • FDR and Eleanor Roosevelt invited prominent blacks to the White House • Black writers participated in New Deal writing projects: documentation slavery through interviews

  17. However… • Critics looked at failure to address Jim Crow (fear of alienating white voters) • Declined supporting legislation to make lynching a federal crime, although denounced in speeches • Declined advocate banning poll tax and ‘grandfather clause’ • Did not use relief agencies to challenge local patterns discrimination • Nonetheless, 1930s brought new relationship between African Americans and the federal government

  18. Music and sport • Billie Holiday (jazz singer) • Duke Ellington (jazz and blues singer) • Paul Leroy Robeson (played for NFL, acted in films and onstage: outspoken criticism racism and blacklisted 1940s-50s, supported by NAACP) • Jesse Owens (Olympic Games gold medalist) • While these talents appreciated, outspoken criticism not. These people ‘in-between’ white and black community, and if they became political it could mean the end of their career

  19. WWII • New Deal stemmed damage of depression, WWII ended it • Presented opportunities and new strategies for attacking racial injustice • Federal govt. needed social harmony in face of international conflict = govt. more willing to acquiesce to black demands for change • March-On Washington Movement 1941 demonstrated effectiveness of new tactic: nonviolent direct action – opened jobs in defense industries for the first time • Joining the war, most black agreed with “Double V” campaign = fighting fascism abroad, while continuing to struggle against Jim Crow at home

  20. Internal Unrest • New opportunities to work in defense industries meant migration to port and industrial cities • Southern whites also moved to these cites, bringing racial attitudes with them • Frequent job disturbances over jobs and housing in urban centres during the war • 1943 these tensions erupted in full-scale riot in Detroit, while smaller riots occurred in other cities

  21. Soldiers • Black soldiers discriminated against • Segregation of armed forces • Most blacks trained at camps in rural south, increasing likelihood racial tension • Many joined the NAACP

  22. Effects on race relations • War spawned optimism and rising militancy among blacks • In addition to success of MOWM, NAACP continued to challenge the colour line, winning a judicial victory in 1944 against white primary elections • Membership of NAACP increased from 50,000 in 1940 to 450,000 in 1946 • New civil rights organisation, Congress of Rcail Equality (CORE) created in 1942: pioneered sit-ins, picketing, other innovative tactics. Successfully desegregated restaurants, movie theatres etc. in northern cities • At end of the war, African Americans ready for full-scale assault on Jim Crow