First World War Key Turning Point In Civil Rights In The Us? History Essay

899 words - 4 pages

How far can the first world war be regarded as the key turning point in the changing geography of civil rights issues in the USA in the period 1850-2009?
I agree that the first world war was a key turning point in the changing Geography of civil rights issues. Throughout the period 1850-2009, there was a significant change in the Black American demographic. Around 1850, many Black Americans lived as slaves in the Southern States of America. In 2009, Black Americans lived all across the USA. Also, in 2009, the first Black American president, Barack Obama, was inaugurated, which shows the extent to which civil rights have changed the role of Black Americans in society. However, this essay will assess the extent to which the first world war played a key role in the changing geography of civil rights issues.
Before the first world war, civil rights involving black Americans were further strained by the introduction of Jim Crow laws in the South. After the civil war, the 14th amendment was passed, essentially allowing all Black Americans equality under the law. However, in the 1880s, Jim crow laws were imposed on Black Americans, legalizing racial segregation, depriving Blacks of the right to vote and leaving them in a similar situation as they were before 1863. Migration before the first world war was slow and only involved a small number of Black Americans to the North, the only major Black community residing in Harlem, New York.
With the first world war, a major impact on the changing geography of civil rights issues was the beginning of the great migration in 1915 that continued into the second world war, being the biggest US migration to take place. Between the years 1916-18, around 400,000 Black Americans left the Old South partly to escape the harsh rules imposed on Black Americans by Jim Crow Laws but mostly to take advantage of job opportunities created by the war. In 1914, the outbreak of war in Europe led to a drop in European migration, combined with the demand of weapons produced by the US. By 1916, war production was booming. Many Black Americans moved from a life of poverty in the South to Northern Industrial cities. Recruiting agents from Northern Industrial companies went to the South to entice Black Americans with promises of a better lifestyle, higher wages and to end poverty. However, moving to the North did not mean the end of discrimination towards Black Americans. Although not as harsh as the South, many faced de facto segregation in housing and employment. Therefore, the first world war did have a major impact on the location of Black Americans and a change in the...

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