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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 1945-55?

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There are three main factors that improved the position of African-Americans in the years 1945-55, the first being World War II, the second is Presidents and the third is Civil Rights Organisations.

There are a few significant factors that occurred as a result of the Second World War. For example, the 'Double V Campaign' of 1942. Two months after the Bombing of Pearl Harbour by the Japanese, the Pittsburgh Courier (the most popular black newspaper in America) published the campaign to everyone. It called for a victory on two fronts, it was a campaign for African-Americans to give their all in the war effort and for black people to fight racial discrimination back home in America. The editor of the newspaper wrote "We call upon the President and Congress to declare war on Japan and against racial prejudice in our country." This was significant because it gave African-Americans a chance to prove how much of a positive impact they could have on the war and this in turn could show current white racists a different view on them. Additionally, it could be argued that because it was quite a big newspaper, more people across America would see it, and therefore it could potentially have more of an effect on the general opinion.
Another factor was the black soldiers who returned home as heroes after the Second World War. It changed the attitudes of white people all across America but more specifically, white soldiers who had fought alongside them in the war. Before the war, white servicemen were disgruntled by the fact that black people were fighting with them, afterwards they treated them as equals. This shows how significant the war was on African-American people in the military. Additionally, black people's confidence and self-esteem was boosted dramatically as a result of fighting in the war. Woodrow Crockett was an African-American pilot who was one of the first black airmen in the military. He flew 149 missions, protecting European harbours and ports from being attacked, not a single plane in the black squadron was ever shot down. After the war, black servicemen who had risked their lives for their country expected recognition for their efforts and achievements. They returned more determined than ever to fight racial injustice.The significance of this was substantial because black people returned with more respect and stature within society and could in turn have more of an impact in terms of bringing about change because America would listen more intently.
A final factor that was significant was the economy that transformed because of the war. Initially, black people struggled to find work in the booming war industry because of the racist employers deciding not to hire them. This sparked a series of events in motion that would change the position of African-Americans, beginning with A. Philip Randolph threatening to lead a march to Washington because of this 'colour bar'. Roosevelt, in response, issued an Executive Order that created the Fair Employment Practices Commission (FEPC) in 1941. The order forced industry employers in the war effort not to discriminate on the grounds of race, creed, colour or national origin. As a result of this, many black farmers in the South moved to the cities to find jobs in the war industry. This was significant because it enabled black people to get jobs without being discriminated against. Additionally, because the war industry was so profitable, African-Americans benefited more so than if they got a job that wasn't associated with the war effort.
Presidents were also a significant factor, for example, President Harry S. Truman succeeded Roosevelt 4 years after he passed that order in 1941. So racial equality hadn't been at the forefront until Truman became President. Originally a racist born and raised in the border state in Missouri, Truman was moved and motivated by the stories of black war veterans who were victims of racial attacks after fighting in the Second World War. He hoped that if the black vote was predominantly for the Democrats like it had been for Roosevelt, as long as he was committed to civil rights, he would gain a huge amount of votes. Truman's most significant decision was the production of the 'To Secure These Rights' report. It detailed a number of things that were outlined as enormous problems for African-Americans and it proposed radical and unconventional changes to make America a more racially equal society. The fact that one of Truman's motives was WWII and that his report outlined changes in the way African-Americans were treated in the armed forces links those two factors together. This was hugely significant because before Truman, there hadn't been a President who had focused primarily on civil rights for African-Americans and although his motives were partially controversial in that he needed the black vote, he was still very committed and improved the position of black people in America. However a lot of the things wrote about in his report were recommendations and very few of them were actually carried out.
Another factor that was along a similar line to Truman's report, was 3 Executive Orders that were all in, what he hoped, aid of the position of African-Americans. The first was Executive Order 9980 that guaranteed fair employment in the civil service. This wasn't as significant as the others but gained black people more chances at getting better employment and therefore would get a better quality of life. However, linking back to WWII, I believe his 9981 Executive Order in June 1948 was the most influential because it guaranteed opportunities and equality of treatment for people in the armed forces regardless of race, colour, religion or national origin. This was crucial because African-Americans would be treated as equal in the military and for them this was a huge advancement in the civil rights movement. Finally, Truman passed Executive Order 10308 which established the Committee on Government Contract Compliance (CGCC), this committee attempted to remove racial bias from the court cases put forward by black people, linking to civil rights organisations. This didn’t have a huge effect but it did show Truman’s dedication to desegregation.
A final factor was President Dwight D. Eisenhower's accidental aid of the civil rights movement in the Brown v. Board of Education Topeka case of 1954. Oliver Brown took Kansas to court after forcing her daughter Linda to attend an all-black school that was 20 blocks away from her house, when there was an all-white school much closer. The Supreme Court had to make a decision, and it was because Chief Judge Frederick Moore Vinson died in 1953 that Eisenhower had to recruit another judge. He chose Earl Warren, and by doing this he had unintentionally won the case for Brown and the NAACP. Warren was much more sympathetic to the civil rights movement than Vinson and used his authority to persuade the other members of the Supreme Court that segregation in educated wasn't to be tolerated. This had an impact that had positives and negatives for the position of African-Americans. However Earl Warren's appointment certainly aided them and that was because of Eisenhower's decision.
The third factor is Civil Rights Organisations, for example, Morgan v. Virginia of 1946 challenged segregation on interstate bus services and in 1944, and Irene Morgan was fine $100 for refusing to give up her seat to a white man. She argued that this violated her constitutional rights, as a result, it was taken to court with the backing of the NAACP’s Thurgood Marshall and the Supreme Court ruled in 1946 that segregation on interstate buses was illegal. This was crucial because the Supreme Court’s rulings applied to the whole of America so it was a big advancement for the position of African-Americans. Also, the fact that Thurgood Marshall was fighting her case was good because he won 29 of his 32 cases for the NAACP so without him and the organisation, this ruling would never have been passed. The fact that it was allowed black people more freedom on public transport and it applied to all of America, so it had a large impact on the position of African-Americans.
Another factor was the Congress Of Racial Equality (CORE) creating the Journey of Reconciliation in 1947. The Supreme Court’s decision in the Morgan v. Virginia case meant that segregating interstate transport was illegal, however this de jure change didn’t lead to much de facto change that the campaigners sought. As a result, a team of CORE activists, 8 black and 8 white, travelled by bus from the northern states to the southern states. Their objective was to draw attention to the fact that there had been ignorance of a Supreme Court ruling. The Journey of Reconciliation lasted around 2 weeks, so it was grabbing the attention of many for a long time. It was ground-breaking because it linked a legal campaign with a non-violent protest. This was important because although it didn’t have a clear impact on the position of African-Americans, it had a more subtle gain. It showed how the confidence of black people had increased and it showed that is was possible to challenge segregation.
A final factor was the Sweatt v. Painter case of 1950. It was the NAACP’s first challenge to segregation in education. HemanSweatt was a black student who wanted to study Law in Texas. However, the Texan education system was segregated and refused him admission the the University of Texas Law School. The NAACP argued this, saying that Sweatt was entitled to an education equal to that of white students at the school. The courts in Texas ordered a new school primarily for black students to be built. The NAACP could have accepted this and allowed segregation to continue, they didn’t. They refused this order and took the case to the Supreme Court. In the case the NAACP demonstrated that the black school had fewer students, fewer teachers and fewer books, and that it was inferior to the white school of law. The Supreme Court agreed with the NAACP and accepted Sweatt as a student on the 19th September 1950. Without the perseverance of the NAACP to refuse good offers and push for the best possible result for black people shows why they played a crucial role in improving the position of African-Americans. Also, the Supreme Court’s rulings once again, applied to the whole of America so Sweatt’s admission will have motivated others to follow in his footsteps, and this wouldn’t have happened without the work of the NAACP.
To conclude, I believe Civil Rights Organisations were the most important factor in improving the position of African-Americans. Although the war and the Presidents had an impact, without the work of organisations such as the NAACP and CORE, virtually none of the cases would have been successfully won, this was aided by the brilliance of lawyers such as Thurgood Marshall. Although black people would have been in a good position without the help of Civil Rights Organisations, the perseverance and unrelenting commitment of the groups got the best possible result. Without this, the position of African-American’s wouldn’t have been close to how it advanced as a result of this.…...

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