Describe the position of black people in the USA in 1945.

Topics: Plessy v. Ferguson, Jim Crow laws, Ku Klux Klan Pages: 5 (1873 words) Published: October 17, 2005
Blacks in the USA in 1945 were not considered as equal; the treatment of people was based on their skin colour, a practice that had been going on for many years before, even after the Reconstruction of society after the Civil War in which the blacks were "liberated" from slavery. In theory, blacks were free to work and live where they wanted, but the figures at the time told a different story: by 1960, around 17% of the workforce of "white-collar" workers, i.e. professional, technical, administration, etc., were blacks, while the whites remained the majority at 47%. The "blue-collar" work, such as craftsmen, manual labourers, etc. - jobs that are renowned for needing less skill and education - had 40% of the workforce as blacks, and 36% were whites. Blacks just weren't provided the education and qualifications to do the professional types of work due to separation of black and white facilities. Not only were they held back at getting the higher-class jobs, they were paid less for the same work that whites did; in 1950, blacks earned about 53% of a whites wage. This figure remained the same over the next 20 years, with it rising 11% to blacks earning 64% of a whites wage. All over the USA, blacks were discriminated against in almost all areas of life, whether it is the law of the state, or just by the custom of the local society.

After the abolishment of slavery, slaves had the choice of moving away from their former homes and having their own lives; unfortunately, many blacks didn't have any money to move halfway across the USA to the northern states that had fought to free them. Those who did have the finance to travel rarely had enough money afterwards to sustain a good quality of life after they had moved. The custom of de facto came into play in some of the Northern states; ghettos and places where the majority of the population were black sprung up in towns and cities. Segregation by custom in the North was contrasted with segregation by law, or de jure, in the South- Jim Crow laws forbade blacks, for example, to enter white facilities, or sit on buses with whites, etc. Places where de facto was in force came up with other ways to separate blacks from whites to keep the Southern order of things; "red lining" was when banks were not allowed to give money for mortgages if they suspected it would be a risky investment- if a black family moved into a certain area, it would lower the prices of the surrounding houses. This meant that places such as ghettos were built up, when the majority of the population were black. This type of segregation wasn't by law, but by custom, blacks weren't forced to live in "black" areas, but they felt pressured to live in certain places because of the practises such as red lining in effect.

Although it is in the Constitution that everyone is equal and has the same civil rights, it is beliefs like red lining that push a wedge between races; it may not seem constitutional, but it is up to the Supreme Court in the USA to decide what is constitutional. They decided that slavery was lawful mainly due the fact that the Southern states economy was based on slavery; they were needed to produce cotton, the main export in the 19th century. Without them, the economy would have fallen apart. After the 13th amendment to the Constitution, slavery was no longer legal, but the Supreme Court still remained to overlook state laws that continued discrimination and practices that could be seen as worse then slavery- for example, the Ku Klux Klan were allowed to terrorise and lynch blacks, yet lynching was not made illegal. "The Supreme Court declared that the 14th amendment forbids states, but not citizens, from discriminating" (1) Separate facilities for blacks and whites were considered as the solution to the discrimination problem; the Supreme Court believed that the blacks were "separate but equal" when they were forced to use different buildings, transport, schools and hospitals then the whites. Since...

Bibliography: (1)
Field, Ron; "Civil Rights in America 1865-1980"; Cambridge University Press
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