To what extent was progress towards equality for African-Americans made under President Truman?

Topics: Black people, Human rights, Race and Ethnicity Pages: 3 (1043 words) Published: October 1, 2014
“To what extent was progress towards equality for African-Americans made under President Truman?” President Truman adopted a Civil Rights Activist label during his presidency and is widely known for his efforts in fighting for equality and eliminating segregation. This essay will examine the depths of whether Truman’s actions were really as progressive as they seem. Socially, Truman became increasingly involved in the rights of African-Americans as time went by. From Truman’s private life, it is insinuated that the progress made towards equality for African-Americans under Truman’s presidency would have been minimal: The fact that he originated from a pro-slavery town (Missouri), where most of black people over 40 had been born into slavery implies that he would have been negatively influenced. This early-stage influence can be exemplified by Truman’s quote, “ long as he is honest and decent and not a nigger”. This confirms that Truman’s attitudes were shaped by his youth, as reinforced by the historic fact that he developed an ‘abiding belief for white supremacy’. This demonstrates the assumed lack of progress in Truman’s potential to change the lives of black people. In contrast, it could be argued that his personal, instinctive views towards black people did not hinder his intentions to achieve equality in general. For example, Truman’s involvement in the armed forced illustrates a progression in seeking and implementing equality. Although he was privately racist, he tried to be fair – He said that equality for black people was a black man’s ‘basic right because he is human’. In addition to this, the destruction that World War Two inflicted upon black people’s lives affected Truman massively. He was horrified by attacks on black service men returning from WW2. This emotional attachment led to a legalised progress when Truman sparked the Desegregation of the Armed Forces in 1948, against dissent within his own party and Republican antagonism and for...
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