Before Brown

Background – USA until 1945

Key question – what was the situation of Black Americans in 1945?

The USA is a land of immigrants founded on ideas of freedom, equality, democracy.

Africans were brought over as slaves   to work on plantations (mainly cotton and tobacco) , mainly in southern states.

USA Gained independence from Britain in the Revolutionary War

The Founding Fathers produced a Codified constitution.  The USA was established as Federal State.  Federal (central) GVMT controls matters such as currency, defence but States make their own laws over matters such education, transport, voting etc.  The Central GVMT is not supposed to over rule the states on such matters.

The Bill of Rights set out Civil Liberties such as Freedom of Speech, habeas corpus etc.  The Supreme Court interprets the constitution and can strike down laws which violate civil rights.

Civil War the South tried to secede from Union because they did not want to abandon slavery (their ‘peculiar institution’).  North refused to let them secede.  The North was more industrialized than the south and won.  A division (and resentment?) between south and north has persisted.

Lincoln abolished slavery

The 13th, 14th and 15th amendments were passed; end of slavery, due process, right to vote.

A period of Reconstruction was followed by the revival of white supremacists such as the KKK

Jim Crow laws were passed in southern states, enforcing segregation in schools, on transport, in public buildings etc.

Supreme Court allowed this in Plessy v Ferguson where it claimed segregation was constitutional as long as facilities were ‘separate but equal’

Restrictions on the right to vote through the imposition of poll taxes, literacy tests and grandfather clauses were introduced

Lynching common and violence against Blacks were common.

WWW1 lead to Great Migration to cities in North

Harlem renaissance.  Growth of groups such as the NAACP

1929 – The Wall Street Crash was followed by depression and New Deal

1941-45 – USA entered WW2.  Black Africans fought in army.

Migration to cities – membership of organisations like NAACP grew

1945 -1965

Key question – How much did things change?  How much did things stay the same?

The Cold war had begun.  The USA needed to appear to live up to its claims of freedom and democracy as it was accusing the USSR of being repressive.

1947 – Truman produced ‘To Secure these Rights’

Truman desegregated the army by Executive Order

Introduced Fair Employment Board

Symbolic actions – such as integrated inaugaration celebrations

Leave a comment

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

  • RSS Chapati Mystery

    • Who was Eqbal Ahmad?
      I gave these comments at an AAAW event at Museo El Barrio some years back I. I miss that which refused to become a commodity. I want that which cannot be assimilated in the histories of “Left” or “Dissent”. I seek that which dissented from participation in our purchasing power. Eqbal Ahmad is one such … Continue reading "Who was Eqbal Ahmad?" […]
    • Past Pleasant
      The practice of publishing old texts is common in Pakistan; British-era district gazetteers and other colonial texts are routinely reprinted as de facto introductions to the history of the Subcontinent. The unwholesome after-effect of this is that colonial biases and frameworks remain uncontested and widely popular. There is neither any attempt to decolonise […]
    • CM Roundtable II: Religious Difference in a Secular Age
      [We are excited to host this conversation on a very important book, Religious Difference in a Secular Age: A Minority Report, by Professor Saba Mahmood.  The CM Roundtable is a series that presents multiple, in-depth reviews of an exciting new book. We thank each of our distinguished panelists for engaging in this public dialogue. We aim to have each … Conti […]
  • RSS British Library Untold Lives

    • Bevin Indian Trainees during the Second World War
      The exhibition Connecting Stories: Our British Asian Heritage includes a number of items relating to the Bevin Trainees during the Second World War. The Bevin Training Scheme was established in 1941... Untold Lives draws out from the shadows little-known stories of individuals or groups of people. It showcases the richness and diversity of the British Librar […]
    • 'I have made resolutions to be good': letters of Princess Charlotte to her tutor
      Can you imagine the 19th century without Queen Victoria? If the young Princess Charlotte, only legitimate daughter of the Prince of Wales, had not died in childbirth in 1817, aged 21, she could have... Untold Lives draws out from the shadows little-known stories of individuals or groups of people. It showcases the richness and diversity of the British Librar […]
    • Political and criminal convictions in Birmingham
      How would you feel if you discovered that a member of your family had attended the first annual meeting of the Birmingham Political Union in 1830 chaired by Radical MP Sir Francis Burdett? Would you... Untold Lives draws out from the shadows little-known stories of individuals or groups of people. It showcases the richness and diversity of the British Librar […]
  • RSS London Socialist Historians

    • GROUP DISCOUNT OFFER For LSHG and friends : Philosophy Football's 1917 Centenary Night Out
      From Mark at Philosophy Football...Our 1917 centenary show at Rich Mix ‘Art out of Revolution’ is on Saturday 21st October, we've put a lot of thought into it and come up with something truly special. And there's a special tickets deal too, 5 for the price of 4, or 10 for price of 7 for LSHG, friends and SWP comrades to take up.  Hope so!   The eve […]
    • LSHG Autumn term 2017 seminars
      London Socialist Historians SeminarsAutumn 2017Seminars are held on alternate Mondays, 5.30pm at the Institute of Historical Research, Senate House, Malet St, London, WC1. They are free to attend without ticket.Monday October 16th - John Rees, 'The Leveller Revolution'Monday October 30th  Merilyn Moos, 'Neglected histories of the diverse victi […]
    • Marikana Miners Solidarity Campaign Picket and Vigil
      Wednesday 16th August5th ANNIVERSARY DEMONSTRATIONAGAINST THE BRUTAL MARIKANA MASSACRE1-2pm Picket Lonmin HQ, 1-3 Mount Street, London W1K 3NB4.30-7pm Remembrance VigilSOUTH AFRICA HOUSE, TRAFALGAR SQUAREBring yellow flowersMarikana Miners Solidarity CampaignOn 16th August 2012, the South African Police shot dead 34 striking platinum rock drillers, while the […]
%d bloggers like this: