To what extent was the Federal Government responsible for improving the status of black people in the United States in the years 1945-64?
The Federal Government is partly responsible for improving the status of black people in the United States during this time period. There are many examples of how they did help to improve life for African-Americans (e.g. legal cases, protection, civil rights legislation) but there are some instances where the federal government hindered civil rights and equality. Firstly, during President Truman’s time in office life improved slightly for black Americans. This was because President Truman became committed to challenging Southern racism and he aimed to reduce lynching, police brutality and discrimination in the armed forces. To achieve his aims he established The Presidents’ Committee on Civil Rights in 1946 and commissioned a report examining the experience of racial minorities in America. This report was called ‘To Secure These Rights’ (1947). While this report was very significant, its proposals were only recommendations and in practice Truman was not able to achieve every proposal due to a lack of support from Congress. Also, Truman used his power as President to appoint black Americans in important governmental roles. For example, he appointed Ralph Bunche as American Ambassador to the UN. So, whilst Truman was the first President since Lincoln to publicly commit himself to a civil rights agenda, his achievements were limited and no legislation followed his proposals. Therefore, Truman’s presidency had a small impact in improving the status of black Americans, but Congress had no impact at all as they constrained civil rights proposals. Whereas, the Supreme Court had a huge impact on status improvement as they declared that discrimination on interstate buses was unconstitutional in the case of Morgan v Virginia, 1946. The case of Brown v Board of Education of Topeka, Kansas was a vital case for the improvement of status...
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