Racism In America: Racial Inequality Until the 1950s

Racism In America: Racial Inequality Until the 1950s

Racial inequality until the 1950s

Abraham Lincoln November 1863 - History GCSE RevisionLand of the Free’ – that’s what they call America. But for a long time, this description was only accurate if you were a white person. As far back as when the United States were Britain’s Thirteen Colonies, American society was built on racial inequality. Shortly after the United States won independence, the country passed the Naturalization Act of 1790, which declared that only white people could be citizens. This rule stayed in place until 1870. Even worse, until the American Civil War, this racial inequality took the form of slavery, with the economies of the rural southern states using slaves brought over from Africa for labour. Slavery was formally abolished in 1863 under Abraham Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation, and came into effect in the South once its states had been defeated in the Civil War. But this certainly did not end racial inequality. Many white folk, especially in the South, resented the end of slavery (having had to accept it through losing the war), and continued to regard African-Americans as inferior. They also believed that it was unnatural for people of different races to mix one another in a social setting, let alone by having a family together. ——————————————————

Jim Crow Laws

Jim Crow Laws - History GCSE RevisionAfter the American Civil War, racial inequality and discrimination continued in the South, disguised by the idea of ‘separate but equal’ races. They were certainly separate: states passed a whole range of laws, known as Jim Crow Laws, which made it compulsory for things like schools, hospitals, restaurants and public transport to be racially segregated, or which banned marriages between people of different races. But they definitely weren’t equal: the standard of facilities provided to African-Americans was much, much lower. Although some states had begun to repeal some of these laws by the 1950s, many, especially those in the South, continued to pass more of them. ——————————————————

Economic Inequality

Racial inequality was also economic, with African-Americans and members of other non-white races generally being much poorer than caucasians. In rural areas, blacks tended to be restricted to the lowest paid jobs. In the cities of the North, where many African-Americans moved to get away from the open racism of the South, economic conditions were not much better, with black people generally finding housing only in the poorest neighbourhoods. ——————————————————

Ku Klux Klan

Ku Klux Klan - History GCSE RevisionBut racial inequality went beyond the law and living conditions. There were also white supremacist groups, who spent their time trying to incite hatred against other races or even physically attack them. The largest and most notorious of these was the Ku Klux Klan. The Klan had 6,000,000 members in its heydays of the 1920s, and its intimidation and terror campaigns were at least partly responsible for several million black people leaving the South for elsewhere during the twentieth century. The Klan lost a lot of its popularity in the 1930s, but in the 1950s new Klan groups started forming. Some of them were simply terrorists, and launched bombing campaigns against black neighbourhoods and organizations such as the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), as well as murdering black people.