The Expantion Of The Us Essay, Research Paper
Viky Kayrova The Civil Rights Of Black Americans 03 699
As Reconstruction ended, an extremely difficult period began for
Black citizens. In order to protect their civil rights, they were forced to rely
on state governments. Politicians who openly opposed the civil rights of black people mostly controlled these state governments. The federal government withdrew from the issues concerning the rights of blacks, and the executive and judicial branches tended to support the Southern white position. The disfranchisement of blacks that had begun in the South with illegal harassment and violence soon after the war was almost completed by the early years of the 20th century. Many Southern states did everything possible to keep black citizens from voting in order to stay in control of the federal government. They enforced poll taxes, literacy tests, and the so-called Grandfather Clause . As a result of constitutional changes, the registration of black voters in Alabama declined from 181,471 in 1900 to 3,000 in 1901. Similar action in Louisiana reduced registered blacks from 130, 334 in 1896 to 1,342 in 1904.
Also the change in the constitution of voting rights for blacks in the south, resulted in separation of blacks from whites in various aspects of everyday life. Blacks were excluded from participation on juries and were refused service in hotels, restaurants, and amusement parks. They were forced to occupy separate sections in vehicles of public transportation and in public gathering places. Also black children were required to attend separate schools from whites, and the educational system was different for each race. By the outbreak of World War I, so-called Jim Crow laws that legalized segregation of blacks and whites existed throughout the South. Jim Crow existed in other parts of the United States as well, either by law as in the South or by local practice.
The judicial stamp of approval for Jim Crow came in 1896 with the case of Plessy vs. Ferguson , whereby the U.S. Supreme Court declared constitutional a Louisiana law requiring separation by race on railroad coaches. The court held that enforcing such separation was legal, so long as equal facilities were provided for both races. However, the facilities that were provided for the blacks were no where near in quality and service, as the ones provided for the whites. This inequality was perhaps most devastating in the area of education. As late as the start of World War II certain Southern school districts did not provide 12 years of public education for blacks. In addition, blacks frequently suffered discrimination in the distribution of tax money for support of schools. Also there were only a few publicly supported colleges in the South, and even those were of poor quality.
The powerlessness of blacks during the post-Reconstruction period is exemplified in the high rate of lynchings. Between 1882 and 1938, 3,402 lynchings occurred all over the United States. The several attempts to pass a federal antilynching bill during this period were all unsuccessful. In spite of efforts by the Southern whites to suppress blacks politically and to deny them social equality, the activities and efforts of blacks after Reconstruction to improve their economic position and political rights finally reached some success. In 1870, 80 percent of the black population over 10 years of age was illiterate; by 1900 illiteracy among blacks was reduced by almost 50 percent. Farm ownership, although still low, increased significantly; by 1901 about 25 percent of black farmers in the South owned their own land. Seven blacks were elected to the U.S. House of Representatives for a cumulative total of 13 terms between 1877 and 1901. Also an association for the advancement of colored people (NAACP) was founded in 1909. One of its founders, William E. B. Du Bois, was the leading spokesperson for full and immediate rights for blacks.
World War I was a turning point in black American history. The number of blacks moving out of the South after 1877 increased dramatically.
This sudden change was caused by the high demand for labor in the Northern cities due to decline of European immigration. The coming together of large numbers of blacks in the urban areas, the exposure of some blacks to European whites who did not have the same racial attitude as American whites, and the war propaganda to make the world safe for democracy combined to raise the hopes, dreams, and aspirations of blacks. However, the segregationists did not share the same optimism due to an upsurge of lynchings, riots, and other antiblack violence after World War I. The Ku Klux Klan was revived and gained popularity in Northern as well as Southern states during the 1920s. These actions increased the efforts of blacks in politics, but the changing attitudes among blacks found other forms of expression. During the 1920s notable productions of black literature, music, and art took place, and race consciousness increased. This social change is best reflected in the writings of the influential black leader Marcus Garvey, founder of the Universal Negro Improvement Association.
In the 1930s blacks initially were less affected by the Depression than whites because the economy of the black community was already depressed. Before long, however, the worsening economic conditions hit blacks the hardest, as the group at the low end of the economic scale. Reforms attempted by the New Deal almost completely dealt with economic matters. The problems suffered by blacks were not addressed because of their racial minority group status. However, in the New Deal efforts to aid the poor, blacks encountered the first assistance from government since Reconstruction. Franklin D. Roosevelt s attitude towards the existence of racism, combined with growing unpopularity of the Republican party, caused more and more voting blacks to support the Democratic party. This was often an uncomfortable decision for blacks, because under the seniority practices followed by Congress, control by Democrats placed declared segregationists in major positions of leadership. However, the shift continued, and since the New Deal period blacks have increasingly voted for Democrats.
With the outbreak of World War II, black support was given to the war effort with the hope that the fight against Nazi racism would weaken racism in the United States. Of the 891,000 blacks that joined the military, approximately half a million served overseas. As in World War I the majority of blacks were organized into service units, and many were never trained in the use of basic weapons. In an attempt to encourage and improve job training for minority group workers in war industries, President Roosevelt established a national Fair Employment Practices Committee. The war ended, however, with no major attack on discrimination in employment and in labor unions, and Jim Crow practices persisted in many parts of both the North and the South.