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African Americans in the 1930’s and 1940’s

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  1. African Americans in the 1930’s and 1940’s The Forgotten Years Of The Civil Rights Movement

  2. The Great Depression • Hits African Americans particularly hard • In Pittsburgh, Black unemployment is 48% compared to 31% for whites • Black sharecroppers face even worse conditions

  3. Continued Oppression • Lynchings increase from 7 in 1929 to 24 in 1933 • Scottsboro Boys, 1931 • Jim Crow laws continue to limit opportunities

  4. New Deal Programs • New Deal programs provide assistance to African Americans such as the CCC • Most benefits still provided under Jim Crow traditions and laws

  5. The Black Cabinet • FDR appoints several African Americans to political positions • Mary McCleod Bethune, head of Negro Affairs for NYA • Robert Weaver, will be first Cabinet appointee in 1960’s

  6. Eleanor Roosevelt and Marian Anderson • The President’s wife, an advocate for racial justice, resigns from DAR when it discriminates against Marian Anderson • Marian Anderson’s Easter concert at Lincoln Memorial in 1939 becomes a significant symbol for tolerance • First song is “America”

  7. African Americans Move to the Democratic Party • Because of New Deal Programs, the Black cabinet, and actions like Eleanor Roosevelt • Mostly African Americans in northern cities • Democrats in South remain racist and linked to Jim Crow • African Americans challenge “white only primaries” in 30’s and 40’s

  8. A. Philip Randolph • One of most important African American leaders of 20th century • Focus on economic rights as central to civil rights • Head of Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters: 10,000 members • Editor of The Messenger

  9. Entertainment • Entertainers make breakthroughs, challenge traditions • Hattie McDaniel wins best supporting actress Oscar for Gone with the Wind • Paul Robeson, lawyer, actor, singer, athlete and radical civil rights activist,

  10. Billie Holiday’s Strange Fruit • 1939 recording, protest against lynching • Became a best selling song • Southerners tried to ban the song from the radio

  11. Sports • Joe Louis, Heavyweight Champion, two fights with Max Schmelling, victory in 1938 has international significance • Jackie Robinson, Integrates Brooklyn Dodgers in 1947

  12. The Arts • Jacob Lawrence • Harlem resident, studied at Harlem Community Art Center (funded by New Deal program) • Painted in modernist style • Particularly noted for series on Black History (Migration Series, Toussaint L’Overture, and Harriet Tubman)

  13. Legal Challenges to Segregation • NAACP chips away at Jim Crow. led by lawyer Charles Houston • Gaines v Missouri, 1938-Must have separate law school • Shelley v Kramer, 1948, ends restrictive covenants in housing • Sweatt v Painter, 1950, Separate Graduate Schools are unequal

  14. Double V/March on Washington • Demand victory at home and abroad • A Philip Randolph threatens a march on Washington • FDR creates FEPC IN 1941 • Various groups like CORE start sit-ins

  15. German Propaganda, 1944 • Uses images of KKK and Blacks in a Cage

  16. African Americans in the Military • Still face discrimination, segregated units • Benjamin Davis is first black general • Tuskegee Airmen • 761st Tank Battalion (Black Panthers) • Red Ball Express, support troops at Battle of Bulge

  17. Myrdal’s American Dilemma • Gunnar Myrdal was a Swedish economist, publishes book in 1944 • Clearly presents that segregation is a contradiction of American ideals • Highly influential with white intellectuals

  18. Integration of the Military • Civil Rights Commission in 1947 publishes To Secure These Rights • Convinces President Harry Truman to integrate the military in 1948 (an election year risk)