In the 1950’s, black Americans were considered separate but equal. However, that was not how they were treated. They were still treated with disrespect and kept in a low social status. In the play, “A Raisin in the Sun,” Lorraine Hansberry brings forth the struggles that were faced by black Americans living in Chicago in the early days of the civil rights movements such as job discrimination, housing discrimination, and unequal educational opportunities.
One struggle Hansberry portrays is job discrimination. Many black Americans had jobs as servants to white Americans because businesses would not hire them. In the play, it is clear that Walter Younger is very unhappy as a chauffeur as he states, “I open and close car doors all day long. I drive a man around in his limousine and I say, ‘Yes, sir; no, sir; very good, sir; shall I take the Drive, sir:’ Mama, that ain’t no kind of job… that ain’t nothing at all” (Hansberry 660). Walter’s wife Ruth and his mother, Lena, also work for white families, taking care of their children and cleaning and cooking for them. These were just about the only jobs available to black Americans in the 1950’s and 1960’s.
Well paying and respectable jobs were few and far between for black Americans in Chicago in the 1950s and 1960’s. While legislation in the north was trying to treat all races equally, many people were still resistant to this change. According to an article written by Louther S. Horne of the New York Times, “There are still sections of the labor movement of Simmons 2
Chicago, which, by various discriminations on account of race, creed, color or national origin, seriously limit or deny equality of opportunity for and in employment” (New York Times). Even for those minorities with jobs, there was no guarantee of long term employment as reported in the New York Times by George Streator that, “Many small factories which produce consumer goods here and which hired Negroes during the war...