RACISM IN THE 1930′S:
The Black Man’s Struggle
The 1930’s was a time of change for the blacks of the United States of America. However, this change was not all for the better. The main change for blacks during this period was that many of them migrated to the North, which in turn, caused many other situations, which included
the election of President Roosevelt. This was a positive, as was the improvement from the de jure segregation, when laws allow segregation, of the South to the less harsh segregation of the North. The blacks made advancements during this time, yet there were still many more
Before and during some of the thirties, America was a completely segregated society, which was supported by both the law and the police who enforced it. Everything was segregated, including the bathrooms, cemeteries, colleges, restaurants and even elevators, which again was allowed by the courts, following the motto “separate but equal”
(Civil Rights and Civil Liberties 5). This was all de jure segregation, yet there was also de facto segregation, when segregation occurs because of social code, political acts, economic circumstances or public policy, which still occurs today somewhat. The blacks would also try to vote those into office who would not support these segregation laws. However, most were deterred from this by the Ku Klux Klan, who would use fear and violence tactics to convince the blacks not to vote. The extreme violence of lynch mobs can also never be forgotten These groups usually murdered those blacks who had committed some crime, yet, they also
killed those who had committed some social violation. These were painful deaths, using either the hanging or burning method. These atrocities to the black society lead to the “great migration,” (Segregation in the United States 5-9).
The great migration occurred over a period of many years, including the 1930’s. This was a time in which numerous amounts of blacks moved from the Southern states, to the Northern and Western states in search of better jobs, better schools and less racism (Segregation in the
United States 5-9). Between 1910 and 1930 alone, 1 million blacks moved to the North. Because of the great number of blacks in the North, they still did not find many open jobs and, and lived in dirty and run-down places. Crime, despair and poverty all became normal to the black community (African Americans 2).
Because many of the black people had moved to cities, it made the number of blacks grow in certain areas, giving them the amount of power needed to elect officials. The blacks influence on the outcome of the political races were realized by the politicians, who began to support civil rights and oppose segregation. Blacks began to win
many votes as well, which quickened the the pace of civil rights and changed the political landscape (Segregation in the United States 10). The blacks migrating to the North did not have all positive results though. Most of the blacks looking for jobs were under-qualified, leaving only such jobs as laborers or servants open, which was much
like their jobs in the South. And those who found a job were lucky to have a job at all, because many blacks could find no job, leaving them to live with other job-less blacks in unsanitary and run-down housing. This type of housing grew, creating black slums, or ghettos,
This migration was also not without violence. The competition for jobs and housing between blacks and whites drastically increased, which became a reason for the great hostility that grew. Also, the black soldiers returning home after World War I expected to come home to equality and justice, and the reality was a rude awakening to them.
Blacks were still subjected to segregation in the North, including with jobs, neighborhoods and beaches, yet this was a more of a de facto segregation than a de jure segregation, compared to the great amount of both in the South. The most important aspect was that the migration lead to the blacks voting pro-civil rights candidates into
term (Segregation in the United States 10).
The Great Depression also had a major affect on the black population. The Great Depression was a hard time for all Americans, but especially blacks, becoming the single victims of job discrimination. The phrase “Last Hired and First Fired” perfectly expressed the actual conditions of for the blacks at that time. This led to the development of support groups such as the Colored Merchants Association in New York City and “Jobs for Negroes” organization in St. Louis, Chicago, Cleveland, and New York City. These groups would buy food in very large quantities, which made it cheaper, and also boycotted stores having no or few
Originally, the Republican Party had remained the party blacks always voted for; the party of Abraham Lincoln and black supporters, while the Democratic Party was the Southern dominated party. However, during the Great Depression this all changed. The blacks felt that Hoover
had done little to try to end the Depression. Therefore, the next election, most blacks abandoned their traditional votes, feeling that the Republican party was no longer the party of Abraham Lincoln, yet the party of Hoover. Instead, they supported Roosevelt of the Democratic Party, helping him win reelection (African Americans 4).
Roosevelt had a plan called the New Deal which was used to reform, relieve, and recover, and benefited many blacks. It included new agricultural policies, public work projects, the building of the Tennessee Valley Authority, and the rural electrification programs which helped both
blacks and whites by providing jobs and electricity for them. Many laws were passed as well, regulating working hours and wages, which raised the living standards for all races (Segregation in the United States 11). All these improvements for blacks can partially be credited to the Black Cabinet, a group of blacks that advised Roosevelt on
the problems of African Americans. This cabinet included William H. Hastie and Mary McLeod Bethune. All of these improvements caused a loyalty to the Democratic Party by the blacks (African Americans 4).
Not only was President Roosevelt involved for the rights of blacks, yet so was his wife, the First Lady, Eleanor Roosevelt. In inviting the National Council of Negro Women to have tea with her at the White
House, she showed her hatred for segregation and racism. However, her most well-known incident was in 1939, when the Daughters of the American Revolution refused to let singer Marian Anderson sing at Constitution Hall in Washington, D.C. Not only did Mrs. Roosevelt publicly resign from this group, Harold L. Ickes, the secretary of the interior, invited Anderson to give a concert on the steps of the
Today, we are lucky to be such a diverse and multi-cultural society, and it is felt by many that we are also an accepting society. In today’s society, blacks marry whites, Asians marry whites and in VT, women marry women and men marry men. Blacks are CEO’s and politicians in
high places. We all go to the same schools, use the same bathrooms and drink from the same water fountain. Although, unfortunately, there are those who still believe that blacks are not equal to whites, the majority of our society believes that we are all equal, all able to achieve the same goal or the same quality of life. And it is because
of our changed America that we are all able to do this. The laws of the United States tell us that we are all equal and that we all have the same consequences for our actions. Most of these laws were the same in the thirties. However, today we have experienced and learned from our past of mistreating blacks. We know now that this was wrong
and see all the pain and suffering it caused, so we don’t let this happen again today. The people of the past were just to ignorant to realize what the truth was. They grew up with the thought that they, the whites, were better than the blacks, and most didn’t have the strength, courage or intelligence to think for themselves, and realize that the only true difference between the two was the color of their
skin. They needed a past situation they could look back on, and plainly see the discrimination in, in order to realize what atrocity they were committing. Unfortunately for them, they lost the privilege of realizing how wonderful and beneficial it is to have a diverse society, but lucky for us, we have realized it for years. Although there may still be some discriminatory practices in our world today, we just need time, time to become comfortable with our diversity and time to make us realize even more how lucky we are to be surrounded in this country by the people that give us the spice in life: the African Americans.