In the 1940s, farm mechanization left many Black sharecroppers without work and displaced.
In search of employment many of them left farms and started migrating to southern cities such as Birmingham and Atlanta and many others went further north and west. In their new homes African Americans worked as service workers and unskilled labors, and were treated as inferiors by the southern whites. Within the next decade, more than half of the African American population used to live in the poorest neighborhoods of American cities. They lived in overcrowded houses and paid astronomical rents in houses that were never repaired. Poor housing conditions of the black neighborhoods, convinced whites that integrated neighborhoods were a bad idea and banks considered them as high risk for mortgage (Schaller et al. 111-112).
Existence and Accomplishments
African Americans were regularly denied basic human rights and several court decisions, new laws and boycotts led to white hostilities and violence. President Harry Truman was the first American president that used executive authority for bolstering Civil rights movement through the justice department. With government inching forward in support of the civil rights, the African American community started to work towards racial integration through the means of non-violent actions and peaceful protests. Post-war, CORE (Congress for Racial Equality) was formed which endorsed sit-ins from Civil rights supporters. Any small victory by the civil rights activist was met with opposition from the Congress as they strongly opposed the equal rights movement (Schaller et al. 113).
One of the pivotal people who changed the outlook for colored people was California Governor Earl Warren, who was appointed to the most powerful seat in the American judicial system. Warren’s actions on making public schools desegregated nationwide, led to nationwide resistance from the whites. His actions caused outrage among the whites and several Democrats in the South called for resistance against state legislature that allowed school segregation. Within a few years, around 450 state laws were made to uphold school segregation. These laws ensured school segregation would be delayed due to the level of legal confusion caused. Even President Eisenhower failed to openly support the cause and believed that the only way ahead was peaceful talks and prayers to the elite (Schaller et al. 115-116).
Life in Southern states and the rest of the country differed completely as the Southern whites remained highly conservative and unwilling to accept African Americans as their racial counterparts. Events such as the murder of Emmett Till in Mississippi over a minor issue by White supremacists and the support received by the murderers from the Southern community and the court letting his murderers go free of charge, was just another highlight of the racial inequalities in the country. There were some who even called the Emmett Till murder a Soviet conspiracy, only to ensure people took focus away from the level of atrocity committed (Schaller et al. 116-117).
In 1957, Little Rock school decided to act on behalf of desegregation ruling and opened their school for African American children. The response was outrage from the state’s Governor (Orval Faubus) who brought the National Guard with him to block any African American to enter the school. Faubus was joined by thousands in mob taunting and insulting the African American students. President Eisenhower was left with no other option, but to use troops to ensure the safety of students and maintain order in the community. Another experience that highlighted life for African Americans was segregation in bus system in south, as an African American woman named Rosa Parks was arrested for riding in the white section of the bus.
This was just another experience of an African American who was arrested for rules that applied only in the conservative Southern states for satisfying the white elite (Schaller et al. 118-119).
The Church played an important role in bringing the African American community together for the cause of Civil rights. The dawn of the 1960s brought another form of protest from the African American community as young men and women started to visit restaurants and cafes, knowing they would be rejected and arrested. Their non-violent actions sparked outrage among the white onlookers and many others followed the same protest and were beaten and arrested. Civil rights brought together other communities such as Latin and women, whose roles were also restricted by the Whites and male elite. They were joined by the long prosecuted American Indian tribes whose reservation lands were stolen by the government and were forced to relocate much like the African Americans (Schaller et al. 119-123).
Schaller, M., Schulzinger, R. D., & Anderson, K. (2004). Present tense: The United States since 1945. Boston, MA: Houghton Mifflin Co.