Racism In The American Society In The 1920s

1489 words - 6 pages

Racism in the American Society in the 1920s

Black people have always been a part of America's history. They were
brought to America in the seventeenth century as slaves by white
settlers. Slavery ended by the nineteenth century, and by this time
there were more black Americans than white Americans in the southern
states. However, Blacks always had a tough time, this is due to the
stereotypical view that the people had of them. The whites believed
that the Blacks were primitive, illiterate and criminals. However,
this view was not true, a good example would be Paul Robeson who was
the son of a former slave and passed his law exams with honours from
Columbia University in 1923. White governments feared that the Blacks
would take power, and so introduced many laws which took away their
freedom (they were not given Civil rights). A good example here is the
Jim Crow laws in the southern states which promised that Blacks should
be 'separate but equal.' This actually meant that at railway stations,
bus stops and even drinking fountains Blacks could not mix with
Whites. They were also denied access to decent jobs, to worthwhile
education and the right to vote. Also, they suffered great poverty
well into the twentieth century.

It may seem that this was already a great oppression against the Black
Americans, yet White supremacist organisations such as the Ku Klux
Klan that had faded away in the late nineteenth century, had suddenly
reappeared to abuse and in some cases, murder Blacks. The Klan became
a powerful political force in the 1920s. It used parades, beatings,
lynching and other violent methods to intimidate Blacks. It also
attacked Jews, Catholics and immigrants. It was strongest in the rural
south where working-class whites competed with Blacks for unskilled
jobs. It spread rapidly in the 1920s, managing to get Klansmen elected
to positions of power. In some areas, whole towns were members of the
Klan. The Klan's favourite method of dealing with black men and women
they considered 'troublesome' was harassing, whipping, branding and
lashing. Thousands of black Americans were hung by Klansmen without
trial, while others were castrated. A good example of this is Abram
Smith and Thomas Shipp who were immediately lynched on the mere
suspicion of murdering someone. The flaming cross became the symbol of
their terrorist activities, which the police and courts usually
ignored. Faced by such intimidation, discrimination and poverty, many
Blacks left the rural south and moved to the cities of northern USA.

Through the 1920s the black population of both Chicago and New York
more than doubled. Chicago's from 110,000 to 230,000 and New York's
from 150,000 to 330,000. However, even in the northern states the
racist feelings were still very visible. For example, Henry Ford
attempted to only...

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