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Early African American History

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Michelle Cash

on 4 February 2015

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Transcript of Early African American History

The Constitutional Convention
At the Constitutional Convention in May 1787 the issue of slavery was largely avoided.
3/5 Compromise
: In order to satisfy both slave and free states, the convention agreed to count slave populations at a three-to-five ratio when calculating how many representatives a state deserved.
Interstate commerce: The slave issue generated another debate as Northerners wanted Congress to control trade, including the slave trade. A compromise was made to abolish the importation of slaves after 1808.
The Rise of Slavery
cotton gin
made the production of cotton highly profitable ("
King Cotton
") and the
"peculiar institution"
of slavery grew to over 4 million. By 1850, the South grew 75% of the world's cotton and exported to the North and England to be used in factories during the Industrial Revolution.
Poor treatment: kept uneducated, separated from their families, and brutally abused by their masters.
Resistance: Rebelled either in small ways or in revolts (Gabriel Prosser, Denmark Vesey, & Nat Turner).
Early 1800s
The American Anti-Slavery Society (1833), led by
William Lloyd Garrison
, called for the immediate abolition of slavery.
The society spread information via its newspaper,
The Liberator
which spread antislavery propaganda and helped fund other activities.
In 1841, Garrison hired
Frederick Douglass
who began a lecture circuit.
The society's membership swelled to 200,000, and its growing attacks on the slave trade could not be ignored .
Southerners wrote proslavery propaganda that provided fictitious accounts of slavery.
Rising Sectionalism
During this time the North became a manufacturing economy while the South remained agricultural. Northerners favored government intervention in the social and economic life of Americans while the South opposed it.

As the nation expanded West the South pushed for the right of new states to have slavery, the North wanted it abolished in these new areas.

Dred Scott v Sanford
, the Supreme Court affirmed the right of slave owners to take their slaves into the Western territories, thereby negating the doctrine of popular sovereignty and challenging the opinion of the Republican Party.
Civil War
Following the election of
Abraham Lincoln
in 1860 the South seceded from the Union beginning the American Civil War.
Lincoln passed the
Emancipation Proclamation
in 1863 freeing slaves in rebel states and leading to increased enrollment in the Union army.
In order to permanently abolish slavery the
13th amendment
passed through the House in 1865.
Section 1. Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction.
Radical Republicans in Congress controlled the process of readmitting Southern states to the union known as

Congress passed the
Reconstruction Acts
which placed the South under military control and required them to approve both the
amendments. This aimed to prevent them from enforcing
black codes

Freedmen's Bureau
provided aid to African Americans, creating schools, handling trials, and controlling the distribution of confiscated lands. Ultimately the bureau failed to establish African Americans as independent farmers and they were reduced to economic poverty as
Reconstruction Ends
Hate groups such as the
aimed to deprive freedmen of their rights through violence. By 1877 all 11 Confederate states had been readmitted to the Union and the Democratic Party was back in power in the South.

By the end of Reconstruction in 1877, a powerful resistance to these changes emerged. One of the forms this resistance took was the establishment of segregation laws known as
Jim Crow laws
"A Visit from the Former Mistress" by Winslow Homer
Jim Crow America
Jim Crow laws segregated every aspect of society including employment, transportation, housing, and public facilities. Attempts to challenge these societal norms could lead to violence against African Americans including
Ida B. Wells
was an outspoken advocate against lynching which she believed challenged African American progress.

Politically, Southern states prevented African Americans ability to vote by passing rigged
literacy tests
grandfather clauses
poll taxes
, and outright violence.

In 1898 the federal government upheld this system of segregation in
Plessy v Ferguson
which used the argument that "separate but equal" facilities did not violate the 14th amendment.
Late 19th-Early 20th Century
Higher Education for African Americans
Few African Americans attended high school at the turn of the twentieth century. Those who did went to private schools.

African Americans were excluded from white colleges and formed their own schools; few African Americans attended college.

African Americans had differing views on how to challenge discrimination.
Booker T. Washington
founded Tuskegee Institute and emphasized trade jobs for African Americans. In comparison,
W.E.B. Du Bois
encouraged a liberal arts education and founded the
Niagara Movement
- an African American protest group of scholars and professionals.
The Great Migration
During World War I W.E.B. Dubois supported the war effort largely in hope that it would strengthen the call for racial justice. Others such as William Trotter opposed it refusing to aid a racist government.

During the war thousands of African Americans moved from the South to Northern cities – escaping segregation & seeking job opportunities in the North - in what became known as the
Great Migration.

Twenty-five urban race riots broke out in 1919 in what became known as the
Red Summer
Promoting Black Culture
Marcus Garvey
established the Universal Negro Improvement Association which desired a separate society (Back to Africa movement), promotion of black pride, and economic independence.

Harlem Renaissance
was a literary and artistic movement celebrating African American culture.
Literary: Claude McKay, Jean Toomer, Langston Hughes, and Zora Neale Hurston celebrated African American heritage & trials of being black in a white world
Music: Jazz became popular with artists such as Duke Ellington, Louis Armstrong, and Bessie Smith. White audiences came to hear black musicians in Harlem at the Cotton Club and Savoy Ballroom.
Roosevelt & the New Deal
After Franklin Roosevelt implemented the
New Deal
, African Americans shifted their allegiance from the Republican to the Democratic party.
Blacks turned to Roosevelt, in part, because his programs gave them a measure of relief and, in part, because the GOP had done little to repay their earlier support.

However, Roosevelt's record on civil rights was modest and he often bowed to discrimination in order to keep support from southern Democrats of his New Deal legislation.
Eleanor Roosevelt
took a public stand in support of civil rights.
Shortcomings of the New Deal
Most New Deal programs discriminated against blacks.
offered whites jobs first & allowed lower pay scales for blacks.
refused mortgages to blacks trying to buy in white neighborhoods.
maintained segregated camps.
excluded jobs blacks traditionally filled.

Black sharecroppers & tenant farmers were harshly affected by
Limiting production allowed white landlords to leave land untilled putting blacks out of work in 1933 and 1934.

The president failed to support an anti-lynching bill and a bill to abolish the poll tax.
Successes of the New Deal
Yet, the New Deal did record a few gains in civil rights.
Mary McLeod Bethune
, a black educator, was appointed to the advisory committee of the NYA leading blacks to receive funds.
The WPA was colorblind, and blacks in northern cities benefited through work relief.
Harold Ickes poured federal funds into black schools and hospitals in the South.
After amed singer
Marian Anderson
was refused permission to perform to an integrated audience at Constitution Hall, Eleanor Roosevelt supported her performance on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial.
Blacks were appointed to New Deal posts, but dominantly in token positions as advisors on black affairs. At best, they achieved a new visibility in government.
The Symbolism of Joe Louis
In 1938, African American boxer
Joe Louis
knocked out the German Max Schmeling. The match was filled with symbolism: black versus white, freedom versus fascism.

Louis began life in a sharecropper's cabin in Alabama; he had only a sixth-grade education. Yet he had become one of America's greatest heroes.

When World War II began, Louis became an icon for black recruitment, helping to urge prospective soldiers to overcome their doubts about serving in the white man's army. He was instrumental in eventually desegregating the Army, not only by encouraging enlistment, but by using his influence to combat racial bias on military bases.
African Americans in WWII
World War II challenged racial roles, opening opportunities for many minority groups.
During WWII, more than 1 million blacks migrated to the North to work in defense industries.
A. Philip Randolph
, the president of the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters, called for 150,000 blacks to march on Washington to protest discrimination in defense industries.
Roosevelt issued an executive order prohibiting discrimination in defense industries and creating the
Fair Employment Practices Commission

During the war, the Marines excluded blacks, the Navy used them as servants, and the Army created separate black regiments commanded mostly by white officers.
Discrimination Continues
Housing and transportation shortages in Northern cities increased racial tensions.
In 1943, the Detroit riots led to the death of 35 blacks and 9 whites after whites wanted blacks barred from new apartments in a federally-sponsored housing project.
During WWII, the NAACP intensified its campaign against discrimination, and its membership grew from 50,000 to 500,000.

Rejecting the NAACP's focus on legal action, the
Congress of Racial Equality
(CORE) organized a series of "
Civil disobedience produced a few victories in the North, but the South's response was brutal. In Tennessee, for example, angry whites savagely beat the civil rights leader
Bayard Rustin
for refusing to move to the back of the bus.
Finish at 3:37
Early African American History
Striving to prove that "all men are created equal"
Full transcript