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How Far Is It Accurate To Describe Black Americans As Second Class Citizens In The Years 1945 55?

1908 words - 8 pages

How far is it accurate to describe Black Americans and other ethnic minorities as second class citizens 1945-1955? (30 marks)
A second-class citizen is a person who is systematically discriminated against within an area and to some extent, black Americans and other ethnic minorities were treated as second class citizens, not only socially but within politics, legislation and economically too. During the years 1945 to 1953 there were improvements but they were still not seen as equal citizens. The Jim Crow laws ensured that blacks were not seen as real Americans and were to be treated differently. Blacks were not denied the right to education or to vote, but the quality of education was ...view middle of the document...

Also, fighting in the war boosted the self-esteem of many African Americans. For example, Woodrow Crockett, an American airman, was one of the first black pilots in the American air force.
The social issues are the most obvious in showing how black Americans were treated as second class citizens due to the social inequality caused by segregation in restaurants and other public places, on public transport, educational opportunities and overcrowded housing. Even after the Second World War, segregation remained throughout the southern states. In Washington D.C., for example, African Americans were barred from all restaurants, cinemas and hotels in the central district of the city. Turning to housing, 40% of housing available to black people in Washington D.C. was found to be sub-standard, whereas only 12% of white housing fell into this category. CORE began introducing sit-ins in segregated restaurants and did begin to fight off the rules of separation between the two ethnicities. Blacks had accepted their position in society and in the south. Though life was, generally, better in the North, there was still great inequality there too and therefore schools in both areas of the US were segregated and the black schools were inferior, with usually more money being spent on the white schools. It wasn’t until 1954 that the inequality of the school system was brought into courts in a highly publicized law case to the Supreme Court called Brown v. Board of Education.
However, northern schools were generally better as both Thurgood Marshall and Adam Clayton Powell gained qualifications as Marshall become a distinguished lawyer and a minister, journalist and Powell gained qualifications as a councilor in the north. Whites were unwilling to live near blacks and black housing was generally built poorly, with no heating and often rat-infested. Black homes were of less value to the state too, for example in Washington DC’s black community, 100 black homes were demolished to make way for the War Department’s Pentagon building. Segregation on buses and other public transportation was common nationwide too, with the drivers often being rude to blacks and if there was no room left in the white area of the bus, the blacks would have to move and stand up. There was a lot of tension in the workplace as from 1943, companies had to employ blacks and white workers often lashed out at black workers and the black workers were the last hired and first fired. Some white men were outraged that black men could work alongside white women and thought it wasn’t morally right for them to be placed together.
Additonally, their conditions varied depending on whether they lived in South or North America. Many Southern blacks migrated to Northern cities such as New York, Midwestern cities such as Chicago and Western cities such as Los Angeles, in search of equality. Although life was usually far better in the North, inequality still remained. Blacks outside the South suffered de...

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