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How Far Do You Agree That The Impact Of The Second World War Was The Main Reason Why The Position Of African Americans Improved In The Years 1945

1461 words - 6 pages

How far do you agree that the impact of the Second World War was the main reason why the position of African Americans improved in the years 1945–55?

The impact of the Second World War was, without a doubt, crucial in improving the lives of black Americans over the years 1945-55, as it led to federal support of the cause. However, it wasn’t as important as the use of direct action which, for the first time, was able to convert de jure into de facto change. This, not the War, was therefore the most significant factor in the improvement; achieving something which federal support and the work of civil rights organisations which did not engage in direct action were alone unable to do.
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These were crucial in improving the lives of Black Americans as they guaranteed fair employment practices in the Civil Services and that defence contracts would not go to companies that discriminated against Black Americans, hence empowering them in the workplace, this showed that pressuring the government could improve racial equality. The FEPC created jobs for several black people; it created the opportunity for blacks to migrate to the less segregated North, better wage rates were achieved and the Unemployment number of blacks in the USA fell from 937,000 in 1940 to 151,000 in 1945, however black workers were still paid less than their white counterparts.
Although the percentage of blacks increased from 2% to 15% by 1945, it was accompanied with its fair share of white backlash. The number of lynching increased after the war, many black communities were being coerced into not voting at elections. The southern states of the USA still remained segregated, even in the North whilst public facilities were being integrated, the black communities were so ill paid that they were forced to live in ghettos, which created long term issues for them. It could be argued that the Second World War’s influence was in fact limited. Despite the initiatives implemented by President Truman it could be argued that it in fact did more ‘harm’ than ‘good’. There was a huge lack of commitment to these initiatives and it led to a growing white opposition within government, evident following the lack of support and subsequent underfunding of these initiatives, hence De Jure could not be converted into De Facto change.

Another factor that had a significant impact on the lives of African Americans was initiatives implemented by President Truman. Truman appeared to be committed to challenging segregation; he valued the importance of the Black vote. In 1946, Truman’s committee on civil rights was established, a report called “To secure these rights” highlighted the problems blacks faced, and it recommended radical change. It aimed tackle the issues of; Lynching, Police Brutality, Grandfather and literacy clause, Discrimination in the armed forces and Employment/education inequality. Government action under Truman was affirmative and used to hire Blacks. Truman used federal government power to guarantee FEPC in the civil service, he aimed to ensure that lucrative government contracts did not go discriminating companies. The Federal housing administration was not allowed to lend money to housing projects that would end up segregated. This ensured African Americans job and housing security, creating a significant impact on their lives. However Truman’s commitment to challenging segregation increased white resistance in the South, Northern democrats supported him but Southern democrats increasingly withdrew their support. The achievements of the FEPC were very limited as there was an issue of underfunding. The substandard housing that was destroyed to make way for better...

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