To What Extent did Opportunities for African-American’s Improve in the years 1953 to 1960?
Prior to the years of 1953 improvements had been made to the lives of African-American’s. During 1953 to 1960 opportunities for African-American’s improved significantly in many areas such as social, economic, political and justice. In saying that however, during this period the areas that improved opportunities for African-Americans also stayed the same as many of the improvements were quite limited. Limitations in what had improved was due to attitudes of the White-Americans, mainly those who lived in the South and especially the Deep South as de-facto segregation was present in education, employment, facilities including housing. Jim Crow laws throughout the South also ensured that blacks were second-class citizens, lacking in political, social, economic and justice equality. On top of this, President Eisenhower was very conservative making opportunities for African-American’s hard to improve but new groups were being formed such as SNCC and SCLC which would challenge opposition.
One very important area of improvement in opportunities for African-Americans was their social status and opportunities regarding education and employment. White-Americans were led to believe that Blacks were somewhat inferior to them and for this reason they had no desire to be educated, work or live on the same premises as them. Due to the Plessy v. Ferguson ‘separate but equal’ ruling being set in stone as of 1896 this meant that education was segregated between the black and white Americans. However, Oliver Brown who was from Kansas did not agree with the segregation seen in education and so decided to challenge the Plessy v. Ferguson ruling in the schools of Topeka. This was mainly because his daughter could not go to whites-only school five blocks away and so had to walk 20 blacks away to the all-black school. Brown and the NAACP, who were already trying to overturn Plessy v. Topeka, worked closely together in desegregating schools. The NAACP’s leading lawyer Thurgood Marshall represented Brown before the Supreme Court, arguing that segregation was against the 14th Amendment. This led Earl Warren to conclude that even though education facilities were the same, it was psychologically harming for children to be educated separately and so the Supreme Court agreed and opposed segregation in 1954. Brown v. Topeka was a great improved to the educational opportunities of African-Americans in the USA because it now legally segregated education and seemed to remove all constitutional sanctions for racial segregation by overturning Plessy v. Ferguson. Although it was an improved, it was not totally victorious as the Supreme Court did not give a date by which all schools had to be integrated which a limitation that lacked the improvement of which was made. Even though the NAACP did return to the Supreme Court the next year to obtain the ruling that it desegregation should be accomplished ‘with all deliberate speed’ there was still no date for compliance. This just shows that White-Americans did not react well to change which included mixing with black people, even though desegregation in the urban South was very rapid with 70% of schools desegregated within a year but schools in the Deep South remained segregated. In the Brown Case the Supreme Court had ruled pro-integration, but many White-American’s believed that their schools were better which they were and so they did not want African-American’s attending their school as they were of a lower class. 1957 saw nine black children trying to enter Central High School, this led to a mob of whites trying to stop them. Clearly, in the upper South, Little Rock, the state capital of Arkansas whites had no intention of integrating their schools which shows that views towards African-American’s were entrenched. However, as a result of this Central High School, along with many others were slowly but surely...
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