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Evolution Of The African-American Experiences Between 1920 And 1960 (Essay Sample)
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Evolution of The African-American experiences between 1920 and 1960 Student’s Name: Course: Tutor: Institutional Affiliation Date: Evolution of The African-American experiences between 1920 and 1960 The twentieth century was a period of radical transformation in the legal and political status of the African Americans. The black history in the forms of slavery, racial discrimination, poor wages for workers, denied access to education, and civil rights movement continued to shape the African-American experience even after the abolition of slavery in a late nineteenth century. At the turn of the twentieth century, the Jim Crow segregation laws were enacted in the south which created legally segregated transportation systems, schools, working environments, and lodgings. The African American workers were not allowed to join the northern labor unions and when faced with a threat of a strike, employers employed blacks since they had no movements to advocate for them. The black workers were overworked and under-payed and had to work under dangerous working environments (Herndon, A., 1937). It was until the rise of the civil rights movements in the 1960’s that the racial segregation was abolished. Although the Blacks were engaged in all major U.S wars, they served as servicemen and were not allowed to participate in combat operations. In 1948, President Harry Truman issued an executive order that allowed the African Americans to be integrated in the US. Army (Engelhardt, B., n.d). This paper will discuss some of the key moments in the twentieth century including the Harlem Renaissance in the 1920s, the workers unions and the trial of the Scottsboro boys in the 1930s, the double ‘V’ campaign and the integration of blacks in the U.S forces in the 1940s, and the non-violent civil resistance in 1960s. The Harlem Renaissance was one of the most significant cultural movement that shaped the African American experience. There was a prodigious movement of the Blacks from the southern villages to the northern cities during the First World War and continued in the 1920s. This migration led to a black cultural renaissance which was known as the Harlem Renaissance and spread through New York City and other cities in the North and West (Locke, A., 1925). The Renaissance became famous as the whites visited the New York’s Harlem to enjoy the exotic adventure in the Jazz clubs, speakeasies, and dancehalls. This was the first major acknowledgment of the African American art, music, and literature. Many people including students, businessmen, peasants, professionals, artists, poets, musicians, workers, preachers, exploiters, criminals and even social outcasts came to Harlem with separate motives. The prejudice and proscription had brought all these dissimilar elements into one area where unity and racial sympathy fused their experience and sentiment (Locke, A., 1925). The mainstream critics and publishers shifted their focus to African American music, arts, literature, and politics (Hughes, 1926). Eloquent writers such as Langston Hughes raised their voice against the discrimination against Negros arguing that the blacks should have the right to choose what they do and do what they choose. The resurgence did not just shape the cultural identity of the African Americans but also led to their amplified political inclusion. The resurgence began as a result of racial segregation but later became an avenue for racial integration between the whites and the blacks (Locke, A., 1925). The injustices in the Southern legal system in the 1930s was exhibited by the unconstitutional conviction of Angelo Herndon and the Scottsboro boys who had been sentenced to death. Jim Crow segregation laws greatly affected the African American workers who were overworked and under-payed (Herndon, A., 1937). Herndon joined the communist party and began to advocate for workers right by uniting the Black and White workers. The African American workers were barred from joining the north unions and any revolt was indicted in court under the insurrection law. The unions were weak due to the division between the whites and blacks. When the white workers go on strike, the employers would call upon the blacks and when the blacks were on strike, the employers would employ more whites (Herndon, A., 1937). Herndon organized a peaceful interracial demonstration in Georgia and was arrested in 1932. He was tried in court before a jury bench who were all white and found guilty of violating the insurrection law. He was sentenced to a minimum of 18 years in prison. The insurrection law had been enacted in a period of slavery in 1861 and stated that inciting insurrection, revolt, resistance or conspiracy on the part of slaves was punishable by death. This case drew a widespread attention and support from labor unions, religious groups, and civil rights movements. The case was brought to the U.S supreme court where the insurrection law was termed unconstitutional and Herndon was freed in 1937 (Herndon, A., 1937). During this period, the Scottsboro case had sparked protests and echoes that roared all over the world. The nine African American youths from Scottsboro, Alabama had been indicted for having raped two white girls. This case inspired a great hatred of the whites against the blacks. Although the evidence of the rape case was slim, the jury sentenced the nine youths to death. The case was taken to the U.S supreme court twice and overturned the convictions. But the Alabama jury found them guilty and only four were freed while the rest were sentenced to long-term imprisonment (Herndon, A., 1937). These cases saw the rise of labor unions and civil rights movements. During the World War II, the black servicemen were fought to further the U.S war goals and at the same time fight against racism. This was termed as the “Double V” strategy as the African Americans were motivated to win the victory overseas and the victory at home (Engelhardt, B., n.d). More than 909,000 African Americans enlisted in the army and 167,000 enlisted in the Navy were organized in separate black units. The black soldiers were given assignments that were spearheaded by racial segregation policy which included restriction from combat responsibilities. The African Americans had to, therefore, stick to non-combat support roles and had to watch as the whites undertake difficult combat operations (Engelhardt, B., n.d). Despite these restrictions and racial prejudice, the African American troops were determined to serve their countrymen and envisioned their own freedom back home. The main goal of the Double ‘V’ campaign was to overcome the s...
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