25 April 2014
Racial Segregation Across the United States
America faces racial discrimination and segregation. The issues are more prevalent in the South, but exist in the North as well. The abolition of slavery and the repealing of the Jim Crow Laws brought an end to the idea that African Americans are inferior from a political standpoint. Southern authors, Ernest Gaines and Toni Morrison, use their novels, A Lesson Before Dying and The Bluest Eye, to highlight the many flaws in the new, so-called “equality,” and show racial segregation denied African Americans the American Dream in the 1940’s and 1950’s. Racial Segregation in the 1940’s and 1950’s can be seen in facilities across the United States. These facilities can be separated by the "colored line" in the town and have inequality among the treatment of people within. This segregation denies African Americans the American Dream due to the fact they do not have the same opportunity as Whites to be successful. In A Lesson Before Dying, Gaines allows the reader to see the inequality between African Americans and everyone else in the South through his depictions. Right from the beginning, segregation is seen in the town of Bayonne: “There was a Catholic church uptown for whites; a Catholic church back of town for colored. There was a white movie theater uptown; a colored movie theater back of town. There were two elementary schools uptown, one Catholic, one public, for whites; and the same back of town for colored” (Gaines 25). Each different type of institution clearly has one building in town for Whites and one in the back of town for African Americans. Segregation is heavily integrated in this society and is the first major aspect Gaines brings to the attention of the reader. In addition, Morrison opens the readers eyes to see similar racial segregation in The Bluest Eye through the difference in the housing facilities of African Americans and Whites. The Breedlove family, an African American family living in poverty, resides in what used to be a storefront without much furniture (Morrison 38). Meanwhile, Mrs. Breedlove works for a typical White family who resides in a house with large spacious rooms full, “of white porcelain, white woodwork, polished cabinets, and brilliant copperware” (Morrison 107). The difference in living conditions of these two families in Lorain, Ohio, shows segregation is a problem not only in the South, but all over the United States. John Hope Franklin, a History Professor at Duke University, touches on the subject of segregation within facilities in his article, “Their War and Mine”. Franklin discusses the discrimination he experiences in all aspects of his life, noting an incident in June of 1945 on a train ride from Greensboro to Durham. On this ride, the African American passengers were crowded into a half coach car next to the baggage car while six German prisoners of war had a full coach to themselves (Franklin 579). Here segregation is seen in transportation. The African Americans were crowded into small car at the back of the train while prisoners of war received better treatment. Undoubtedly, it is going to take more than changing laws in the 1940’s and 1950’s for there to be equality among the people of not only Bayonne, but the rest of the country as well. In separate facilities, the African American children do not have the same opportunities as the White children. In A Lesson Before Dying, Grant, an African American school teacher, attempts to get the children of his school new books and supplies. When the White Superintendent stops by for his annual inspection, Grant says, “‘Many of the books I have to use are hand-me-downs from the white schools, Dr. Joseph… And they have missing pages’” (Gaines 57). The children of this African American community can’t learn if they don’t have adequate, up-to-date supplies, especially when the books they currently use have...
Please join StudyMode to read the full document