ISSUE 2 Evaluation of the obstacles to the achievement of civil rights for black people up to 1941 This question is asking you to make a judgement on how important these obstacles were in preventing civil rights – what was the biggest obstacle they faced? Possible questions • 2013 - To what extent were divisions within the black community the main obstacle to achieving civil rights before 1941? • 2012 - How far can it be argued that the activities of the Ku Klux Klan was the most important obstacle to the achievement of Civil Rights for black people up to 1941? CONTEXT • Constitution – 13th and 14th amendments to civil and voting rights • Emancipation of slaves 1865 – slavery abolished • State authorities did not allow these – Jim Crow laws passed after the ‘Separate but equal’ ruling perpetuated this racial inequality. KKK Divisions in black community Popular prejudice OBSTACLES Lack of political influence Legal impediments KKK KU • Originally formed in 1860s with direct purpose to prevent former slaves enjoying equal rights • Resurgence in 1920s, in order to protect the ‘American way of life’. • Hiram Wesley Evans - leader in 1923. • By 1925, 3 million members, many of which were police, judges and politicians. • Tactics of lynching, torture and violence characteristic of this secret organisation. KKK ARGUMENT • A SIGNIFICANT obstacle: • Lynching resulted in a black population too terrified to campaign for fear of the consequences. • Roosevelt refused to support an anti-lynching bill in his New Deal for fear of losing Democrat support in south therefore allowing lynching to continue unpunished. • 1925 March on Washington permitted showed their support • In some states, only KKK approved candidates could stand for election proving their political power. • By 1920s, scandals discredited KKK. In Alabama where they were most powerful numbered less than 6,000 by 1930 but they remained powerful in local groups. DIVISIONS IN BLACK COMMUNITY KU 1. Booker T Washington, accomodationist philosophy, regarded as an ‘Uncle Tom’ by many – he argued not to antagonise whites but prove themselves through hard work and education. 2. W. E. B. Du Bois disagreed with Washington – he said this approach assumed that blacks were inferior and fought for complete racial equality. W E B De Bois founded the NAACP – a national organisation whose main aim was to oppose discrimination through legal action. 1919 he campaigned against lynching, but it failed to attract most black people and was dominated by white people and well off black people 3. Marcus Garvey and Black Pride – he founded the UNIA (Universal Negro Improvement Association) which aimed to get blacks to ‘take Africa, organise it, develop it, arm it, and make it the defender of Negroes the world over’. This ‘Negro nationalism’ was very popular as it rejected white culture. 1922 6 million members. However, Garvey’s fraudulent activity discredited him. DIVISIONS IN BLACK COMMUNITY ARGUMENT • Resulted in a WEAKENED campaign before 1941, lack of COHESION. DISAGREEMENT in approach and ideology. Shared goals but not the approach. • Garvey did raise pride in black community. Washington’s Tuskegee institution did educate black Americans who attended. LEGAL IMPEDIMENTS KU + ARGUMENT • ‘Jim Crow Laws’ − separate education, transport, toilets – passed in Southern states after the Civil War – this gave legal justification to racism. Restricted their civil rights and resulted in apathetic black Americans. • ‘Separate but Equal’ Supreme Court Decision 1896, when Homer Plessey tested their legality – proved a significant legal obstacle • Attitudes of Presidents eg Wilson ‘Segregation is not humiliating and is a benefit for you black gentlemen’. Wilson also called them ‘an ignorant and inferior race’ – unsympathetic president would prevent further reforms being passed that would improve civil rights for blacks LACK OF POLITICAL INFLUENCE • By 1900, almost no blacks could vote despite their constitutional right to do so therefore could not elect someone to fight for civil rights. Voting registration rules were an important obstacle. • 1898 case of Mississippi v Williams – voters must understand the American Constitution. • Grandfather Clause: impediment to black people voting. • Most black people in the South were sharecroppers they did not own land and some states identified ownership of property as a voting qualification. LACK OF POLITICAL INFLUENCE ARGUMENT • Therefore black people could not vote, particularly in the South, and could not elect anyone who would oppose the Jim Crow Laws • Direct obstacle to the achievement of civil rights. • Little was achieved to end discrimination, political activists were a minority. • Lacked political education and experience to change this. POPULAR PREJUDICE KU • After the institution of slavery the status of Africans was stigmatised, and this stigma was the basis for the anti-African racism that persisted • The relocation of millions of African Americans from their roots in the Southern states to the industrial centres of the North after World War I, particularly in cities such as Boston, Chicago, and New York (Harlem). • In northern cities, racial tensions exploded, most violently in Chicago, and lynchings – mobdirected hangings, usually racially motivated – increased dramatically in the 1920s. POPULAR PREJUDICE ARGUMENT • Civil rights was treated with hostility. • Most African Americans were more concerned with their economic survival.