Before 1940 there were a lot of problems facing the black public, segregation, bad housing, terrible education, discrimination in the work place and unable to vote and improve there situation. Black communities had not had help from the fed government to fix these problems, which were far worse in the South because of the Jim Crow laws, but through 1940-1968 many problems facing black people had been eradicated. I will explain the main points that contributed to the abolition of racism in America.
The first breakthrough was in 1940 – 1953 during WW2, where the president, (Federal Gov) issued order 8802 banning discrimination in firms working for the government. As such it ended discrimination in the aircraft industry, however this had only limited results, as it was only government companies that were disallowed segregation and no general laws to end discrimination in employment. The South hardly benefited at all as they had less factories than the North and only 20% of cases held in court. It was the North, which benefited the most, 40% of cases held up in court, and as there were more industries in the North. However any progress is good progress, and as such I believe that these contributed greatly to the ending of segregation and discrimination.
1954 – 57 were important years in the fight to end discrimination, the blacks started really fighting for there rights as equal citizens. In 1954 blacks started to challenge why blacks couldn’t go to the same schools as whites (Brown V Topeka). This was the first national challenge to segregation as a legal system. It was blacks opportunity to use law’s to challenge segregation, by going above the heads of the local government and going straight to the President It reversed the decision in 1896 which upheld segregation in school’s. However it wasn’t too successful as the president Eisenhower didn’t enforce the law as it would provoke white opposition and therefore would not be able to stay in power and as such many local governments chose to ignore this rule as they had legal control over the states education system. This was more like the presidents polite tap on states shoulders asking to them to please stop segregation in schools. There was no power behind it. However it was involving the president in fighting racism, which must be good. It didn’t affect the North’s segregation either as there segregation was mainly caused by situation of housing in relation to schools. Schools near Slums will have mainly black students and vice versa for schools close to white housing. Also this ruling has no legal impact on in crow system, as there is still segregation in every other area. A year later the Montgomery bus boycott began, Where blacks fought for the right to have an equal position on the bus as whites did. Through out 3 years blacks refused to use buses as transport. This had a terrible impact on the buses income as most of there passengers where blacks and as so got very little income. This was the first practical in fighting discrimination. This again had little impact on the fight against racism, but if u imagine each challenge to segregation was eroding away at Jim Crow laws then every thing counts and as such must be good.
In 1957 the civil rights act was passed by the federal government, this was the first challenge to segregation by the federal government since 1875. It generally targeted black voting and as such white power in the south. However it was fat too general and limited in its power to face whites in south to end the voting system, again it was greatly ignored and consequently there was no increase in black voters. In the same year the ‘little-rock’ incident occurred, this is where the president was getting fed up of being ignored and enforced the supreme court ruling on education, He sent army troops into little rock to let Blacks attend a white school, however Arkansas brought in its own state troops to prevent them from attending. It again had limited success as in 1963 only 12% of schools where admitting black students, which is still progress.
Through 1960-1961 there where a few acts passed to end segregation in some areas. Segregation in transport nationally was banned as well as a lessoning of segregation in shops restaurants and cinemas. This general erosion of Jim Crow was beginning to seriously weaken the system. However this still isn’t a cure all and Jim Crow was still essentially intact. This had big impact in the south and little in the North as there is no Jim Crow, This ends the period of the first phase or eroding the Jim Crow system. Which has failed to address the problem of segregation in housing and education.
In 1964 the truly big one came, Discrimination on race in ANY public place was banned. It could be legally enforced and southern states ignoring this could be prosecuted by the Federal Government justice department. This of course banned all job discrimination as well. This is the body blow that the blacks had been waiting for. It had many practical benefits, End of all school segregation, which opens up good education for blacks, which in turn provided better employment opportunities for them and by the 1970’s black unemployment had declined by 34% and a new black middle class emerged with wages of $10000.
However there was still limitations. The education would only benefit blacks who where beginning the education cycle and the results of this would not be out until the 1980’s. Also in employment small business’s where excluded which limits the impact especially in the south, which is less industrial. Also the white employers still discriminate against blacks as attitudes towards blacks have still not changed. 4 years after this was introduced blacks wages were still 60% of whites, but there is no real way to get it higher quicker than what is happening here, as the education system needs to go through a cycle before the effects are felt, in there entirety.
A further act was brought in by president Johnson, It backed up the previous act on blacks education rights, it broke the cycle of low educational achievement of blacks especially in the North Ghetto areas. Black universities where given a lot more money and thus the amount of blacks attending quadrupled. However the cycle of poverty wasn’t broken and many continue to under achieve in the ghetto. The Southerners benefited the most from this act and the North only had a slight increase in the educational statistics.
So far the problem of black voting had not been truly addressed and in 1965 that changed. This new act banned the southern system of using literacy test and poll tax to exclude voters. As such a huge increase was felt in the amount of black voters with over 50% of blacks being registered to vote from 12%. There fore blacks can now have political power, as black politicians where made to address black issues. This sped up the enforcement and introduction of new rights acts. However there where still 40% of blacks unregistered to vote and many didn’t due to fear of the KKK. So that meant that they where in the minority. This act benefited the South but didn’t affect the North as there was no voting system in place.
Blacks where still under achieving as there where stuck in bad areas, due to discrimination in housing. To combat this in 1968 the Kerner commission was set up. This reported on black poverty, which was not addressed by earlier acts. It banned discrimination in buying houses and more blacks could move freely to better areas. But many blacks couldn’t afford to move out of the ghettos. But the black middle class could afford two and therefore created a rift between the blacks, which meant that there were fewer blacks to provide services in the ghettos, and black poverty was still not addressed.
By 1968 many problems facing the blacks had been overcome, however there life was still a considerable amount worse than whites with there income much lower and suffered terrible discrimination as whites attitudes had not been changed. But blacks now can go to a good school move into a white neighbour hood eat in a restaurant with a white and work along whites. So there rights are very similar to whites, in a legal sense. But illegal discrimination and segregation was still rife and would not disappear until a good few generations.