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To What Extent Was The Lack Of Support From Presidents And Congress The Main Reason Why Little Progress Was Made In The Development Of African American Rights Between 1896 And 1941?

1351 words - 6 pages

To what extent was the lack of support from Presidents and Congress the main reason why little progress was made in the development of African-American rights between 1896 and 1941?

In 1896, politicians were still a direct way in which African-Americans could use to gain higher levels of civil rights in the United States of America. It is arguable therefore that the support from Presidents and Congress over the time period of 1896 to 1941 was crucial to progress and the development of African American rights. However whether there was a lack of support which caused “little progress” or other factors such as deep racist attitudes in the south which were the cause of no development between ...view middle of the document...

Hoover also nominated Judge John J. Parker to the Supreme Court in 1930. Despite the judge having supported disenfranchisement of blacks in North Carolina. Therefore it is the Presidents and there influential attitudes on the rest of the country which caused racism to flourish meaning there was “little progress” for the African Americans with right.

However on the other side there are other factors which can be seen as the main reason for little development for the black people from 1896. Firstly the Supreme Court which dismissed many cases of racism away and gave a strong foothold for the rest of the country to lever off. The Plessy vs Ferguson case of 1896 is a great example of the supreme court being the main reason for the “little progress” made. The case established the principle of “separate but equal” and showed up Americas 14th Amendment to the Constitution which didn’t prevent segregation. However despite this the Supreme Court can actually be viewed from a different angle as aiding the African Americans. The 1899 Cumming v Board of Education case was one of the first times that Blacks had been supported from a branch of government. The case was brought to court arguing that they should close a white school down if they are going to close a black school down. The case was won as the Supreme Court ruled that it was unconstitutional as the closing of a black school would make the system “separate but not equal”. The same happened again in 1917 with the Buchannan v Warley case. Thus one could argue that the Supreme Court should not be considered a factor that has given “lack of support” for the development of African Americans. This is more evidence for the fact that Presidents and Congress were the “main reason” for little progress between 1896 and 1941.

For much of the time Presidents and Congress were concerned with more important matters other than the African American concern. In the time of 1896 and 1941 there were two world wars and a great depression, and Americas greatest fear; communism, was growing in Russia and into many other countries such as Vietnam. Despite these circumstances Congress did make some attempts at passing legislation on the matter. There were several attempts on passing anti-lynching laws through Congress but these all failed. The House of Representatives did pass anti-lynching legislation in 1937 and 1940 but the Senate refused to ratify. Presidents were no better and were often unwilling to introduce legislation into Congress for fear of alienating white voters. Therefore Congress and Presidents both had little time for African Americans, hence the empty meetings with Booker T. Washington in 1901 and also the fact that the strong southern white voters were still rather influential. The fact that Presidents and Congress were too pre-occupied by other things and too afraid of alienating white peoples vote, this is much evidence that it is the main reason why there was “little progress”.


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