Black Churches. Larger, can support full-time ministers. Autonomous, Blacks control.
Social gospel movement = role of church in society.
Black Colleges. Lawsuits force the equal part of separate but equal. Obtain White money. Massive growth in educated youth. Students economically independent of Whites
NAACP is a White-dominated organization at the national level, but a Black grassroots organization at the local level mobilized to support & defend Blacks.
Rising Political Influence
1865-1920 those Blacks who could vote were staunchly Republican (the anti-slavery party, Lincoln freed the slaves). But after 1880, Republicans do nothing for Black rights
In 1920s, NAACP and others urge Blacks to vote for whatever party will support Black rights, proportion voting Democrat goes up
In 1930s, Blacks are part of Roosevelt’s New Deal coalition, get some benefits; Eleanor Roosevelt supports more strongly
Growth in Black education & Black colleges a direct result of NAACP litigation in the 1920s and 1930s
Court cases forced the “equal” in “separate but equal”
Southern states had to pay for Black education to defend segregation (but Blacks still lagged way behind Whites)
These lawsuits also laid the groundwork for 1954 Brown vs. Board of Education
“Cognitive liberation” = belief that change is possible (McAdam)
Brown vs. Board of Education in 1954: hope that change was possible, federal government would intervene.
Blacks more positive about Whites in the Civil Rights era, believed Whites were ready to change
Blacks more integrationist when Whites seem willing to change & are open to integration and power sharing, are more separatist when Whites are more racist and conservative
After 1930, Blacks become increasingly important “swing vote” in some northern areas, part of the New Deal coalition
Blacks voting predominantly but not uniformly Democrat 1930-1960
1960 both Republicans and Democrats are backing Civil Rights AND trying to gain White southern votes.
1960 Close election, Kennedy vs. Nixon. Kennedy wins, Blacks seen as swing vote. Kennedy gives support to civil rights, while trying to keep White southern vote.
The Civil Rights Era 1954-1969
Events & Themes
1954 Brown vs. Board of Education. Bans segregation, but allows graduate implementation.
1954 Emmett Till murdered. Widespread publicity among Blacks.
1955-56 Montgomery Bus Boycott, rise of Martin Luther King, Jr. Nation-wide publicity.
1950s Malcolm X preaching on the streets of Harlem.
1957 Martin Luther King, Jr. founds Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC)
White Resistance 1950s
1954-1970 (and continuing?) White resistance. Violence against Blacks, close public schools, mobilize organizations
1957. White riots at Little Rock High (Arkansas) to block small-scale integration. US Troops protect integration.
1954-1960s NAACP persecuted in south. Banned as “Communist.” Teachers, others fired for being members. (Same people who were members of NAACP involved in other Black organizations, involved in Black churches.)
White segregationists resisted even moderate reforms
Non-violence as tactic (vs religious principle for MLK)
Growing Black activist anger at White reactions
Segregation laws a narrow goal: cannot address the economic, political, cultural deprivation of a people
Riots 1963-1970: Eruptions of the Black lower classes. White responsiveness + White fear
Belief in possibility of race war by late 1960s
Black turn to separatism, “Black power,” “Black pride” magnifies themes long present in the culture
White flight. Race-coded “law and order” & “anti-crime” rhetoric.
Black prison admissions & disparity rise 1940-1980
Black Movement Since 1970
1964 election pits strong Civil Rights activist LB Johnson against far right conservative Goldwater. Self-conscious racists shift to Republicans, Democrats come to be viewed as the party of Blacks & civil rights.
1968 – 2000 Blacks vote Democratic 95%+. Republicans ignore the Black vote, seek to shore up the White vote with “race coded” appeals. Democrats take Black vote for granted, chase White votes.
1970s Part 1
Implementation struggles. White resistance changes form.
Black political organizations become part of the “system.”
Affirmative action policies are initiated
Cultural nationalism grows: Black (Afro-American) studies departments; Kwanza invented
Black progress: reduced poverty, increased education, increased college enrollment.
Mobilization precedes external funding
1970s Part 2
Generally difficult economic times: stagflation, gas lines. Political left declines, White activists involved in environmentalism, anti-nuclear.
“White backlash.” Anti-busing riots oppose school integration: Boston, Louisville. Rhetoric of “neighborhood schools” & racial attacks.
“War on drugs” begins, Black imprisonment climbs.
White working class, not Blacks, are the swing votes.
Split in Nation of Islam 1975: most follow W. Deen Muhammad into mainstream non-racial Islam; Louis Farrakhan leads separatist splinter)
1980s Part 1
Reaganism. Conservatives strike back. Huge cuts in welfare, college scholarship programs, low-income housing, other social programs. Large tax cuts, S&L bailout create deficits.
The effective end of federal support for affirmative action in employment. Whites even use MLK’s equality rhetoric against Blacks.
Recessions. “When White America has a cold, Black America has pneumonia.” Economic disaster in segregated Black urban areas: unemployment, poverty, hunger, infant mortality, segregation, crime all rise.
1980s part 2
Black high school graduation continues to rise, but Black college enrollments drop.
White flight. Limited progress in school integration begins to reverse. By end of the decade, schools are as segregated in 1990 as in 1960. (Trend continues into the 2000s.)
Race coded use of crime as a political issue: “Willie Horton” 1988.
Politicized “drug war” leads to massive incarceration of African Americans.
Black Prison admissions & disparity 1983-1999
Early 1990s recession followed by long period of boom.
Late 1990s low unemployment, growing wealth of the top 20% (especially top 1%) of the population.
Declining real incomes since the 1970s of the bottom 60%, especially the bottom 40%, with only a slight rise at the end of the decade, decline with 2000s recession. Rise in homelessness of families, particularly of Black families.
Dismantling of the last vestiges of a social welfare system. There is no “safety net” for the poor, few supports for the “working poor.”
Growing self-segregation of the affluent: well-off people rarely even see non-affluent people. More economic segregation than in any prior period.
Growing Black middle class, college educated. Largely segregated in Black middle class areas, as Whites flee even non-poor Blacks.
Declining economic well-being of Black lower class.
Simultaneous growth of integrated, non-racist consciousness among Whites AND of renewed “respectability” of overtly racist images, jokes, language.
Explicit White racist movements growing.
1992 Rodney King beating & trial. Major shift in the anger of the Black middle class.
1992 Clinton elected.
1995 Million Man March. Louis Farrakahn and the Black masses.
Growing Afrocentrism, separatism among middle class Black families. Kwanza celebrations spread. (Note: Most Blacks are Christian; Kwanza is a cultural celebration, not religious.)
1995 OJ Simpson trial.
1995. Oklahoma City bombing by White right-wing anti-government terrorist.
Some Themes of the late 1990s & early 2000s
Continuing increases in anti-crime rhetoric, building more prisons
Declining high school graduation for Blacks after gains of the 1970s
Lack of political unity among Black movement organizations
Debates about affirmative action
Close election dramatizes problems of voter registration, unequal voting procedures, disenfranchisement of felons.
WTC attack of 9/11/2001 – “war.” Implications for African Americans unclear.
Economic downturn – consequences for African Americans?
Attacks on Affirmative Action in college admissions (the last place where it still exists)
Supreme Court rules strict “formulas” cannot be used, but race may be considered qualitatively