The Age of Affluence 1945–1960 - PowerPoint PPT Presentation


PPT – The Age of Affluence 1945–1960 PowerPoint presentation | free to download - id: 3dd42d-NDVlY


The Adobe Flash plugin is needed to view this content

Get the plugin now

View by Category
About This Presentation

The Age of Affluence 1945–1960


Explain the record of American prosperity during the two decades following World War II. What were the changing roles of cities and suburbs in American society? – PowerPoint PPT presentation

Number of Views:105
Avg rating:3.0/5.0
Slides: 136
Provided by: wueschner
Learn more at:
Tags: affluence | age | parks | rosa


Write a Comment
User Comments (0)
Transcript and Presenter's Notes

Title: The Age of Affluence 1945–1960

  • The Age of Affluence 19451960

  • Explain the record of American prosperity during
    the two decades following World War II.
  • What were the changing roles of cities and
    suburbs in American society?
  • Assess the validity of the fifties as the
    historical norm of American life.
  • Who were the members of the other America and
    why did they occupy this status?

  • Economic Powerhouse
  • Engines of Economic Growth
  • The Corporate order

  • By the end of 1945, war-induced prosperity had
    made the United States the richest country in the
    world, a preeminence that would continue
    unchallenged for twenty years.

  • At the end of World War II, American economic
    hegemony abroad translated into affluence at
    home. The weakness of foreign competition enabled
    American businesses to exploit foreign markets
    when domestic markets were saturated or
    experiencing recessions. Millions of new jobs
    were created, consumer spending soared, and
    inflation was low the nation entered a period of
    unprecedented affluence.

  • A meeting in Bretton Woods, New Hampshire,
    established the U.S. dollar as the capitalist
    worlds principal reserve currency and resulted
    in the creation of two global institutionsthe
    International Bank for Reconstruction and
    Development (World Bank) and the International
    Monetary Fund (IMF).

  • The World Bank provided private loans for the
    reconstruction of war-torn Europe as well as for
    the development of Third World countries, and the
    IMF was designed to stabilize the value of
    currencies, thereby helping to guide the world
    economy after the war.
  • U.S. economic supremacy abroad helped to boost
    the domestic economy, creating millions of new
    jobs the fastest growing sector was white-collar
  • Although the percentage of blue-collar
    manufacturing jobs declined slightly during this
    period, the power of organized labor reached an
    all-time high.

  • A second linchpin of postwar prosperity was
    defense spending. The military-industrial complex
    that President Eisenhower identified in his 1961
    Farewell Address had its roots in the
    businessgovernment partnerships of the world
    wars. But unlike after 1918, the massive
    commitment of government dollars for defense
    continued after 1945.
  • As permanent mobilization took hold, science,
    industry, and the federal government became
    increasingly intertwined. According to the
    National Science Foundation, federal money
    underwrote 90 percent of the cost of research on
    aviation and space, 65 percent for electricity
    and electronics, 42 percent for scientific
    instruments, and 24 percent for automobiles.

  • The growth of this military-industrial
    establishment had a dramatic impact on national
    priorities. Between 1900 and 1930, excepting
    World War!, the country spent less than I percent
    of gross domestic product (GDP) on the military.
    By the early 1960s the figure had risen close to
    10 percent.
  • America's annual GDP jumped from 213 billion in
    1945 to more than 500 billion in 1960 by 1970,
    it approached 1 trillion. To working Americans,
    this sustained economic growth meant a 25 percent
    rise in real income between 1946 and 1959.
    Postwar prosperity also featured low inflation.
  • Even so, the picture was not entirely rosy. The
    distribution of income remained stubbornly
    skewed, and poverty stubbornly hung on one in
    thirteen families at the time earned less than
    1,000 a year

The Corporate Order
  • For more than half a century, American enterprise
    had favored the consolidation of economic power
    into big corporate firms. That tendency continued
    and even accelerated.
  • The classic, vertically integrated corporation
    of the early twentieth century served a national
    market. This strategy worked even better in the
    1950s. when sophisticated advertising and the
    modern media enabled large corporations to break
    into hitherto resistant markets.
  • National firms now added a new strategy of
    diversification. CBS. for example. hired the
    Hungarian inventor Peter Goldmark, who perfected
    color television during the 1940s, long-playing
    records in the 1950s, and a video recording
    system in the 1960s.

  • More revolutionary was the sudden rise of the
    conglomerates, giant enterprises comprised of
    firms in unrelated industries. Conglomerate-buildi
    ng resulted in the nation's third great merger
    wave (the first two had taken place in the 1890s
    and the 1920s). Because of their diverse
    holdings, conglomerates shielded themselves from
    instability in any single market and seemed
    better able to compete globally.
  • Expansion into foreign markets also spurred
    corporate growth. At a time when "made in Japan"
    still meant shoddy workmanship. U.S. products
    were considered the best in the world.

  • In their effort to direct such giant enterprises
    managers placed more emphasis on planning.
    Companies recruited top executives who had
    business-school training. the ability to manage
    information, and skills in corporate planning,
    marketing, and investment.
  • To man their bureaucracies. the postwar corporate
    giants required a huge supply of white-collar
    foot soldiers. They turned to the universities.
    which, fueled partly by the GI Bill, grew
    explosively after 1945.
  • Climbing the corporate ladder rewarded men
    without hard edges-the "well adjusted."
  • In The Lonely Crowd (1950), sociologist David
    Riesman contrasted the independent businessmen
    and professionals of earlier years with the
    managerial class of the postwar world. He
    concluded that the new corporate men were
    "otherdirected more attuned to their associates
    than driven by their own goals.

Labor-Management Accord
  • For blue-collar workers. collective bargaining
    after World War II became for the first time the
    normal means for determining how their labor
    would be rewarded.

  • General Motors implacably resisted this "opening
    wedge" into the rights of management. The
    company took a 1l3-day strike, rebuffed the
    government's intervention, and soundly defeated
    the United Auto Workers (UAW) union. Having made
    its point, General Motors laid out the terms for
    a durable relationship. It would accept the UA
    Was its bargaining partner and guarantee GM
    workers an ever higher living standard.
  • The price was that the UA W abandon its assault
    on the company's "right to manage."
  • On signing the five-year GM contract of 1950 -the
    Treaty of Detroit, it was called- Walter Reuther,
    leader of the UAW, accepted the company's terms.

  • In postwar Europe, America's allies were
    constructing welfare states. That was the
    preference of American unions as well . But
    having lost the bruising battle in Washington for
    national health care, they turned to the
    bargaining table. By the end of the 1950s, union
    contracts commonly provided defined benefit
    pension plans (supplementing Social Security),
    company-paid health insurance, and for two
    million workers, mainly in steel and auto, a
    guaranteed annual wage (via supplementary
    unemployment benefits).

  • In 1955, the Congress of Industrial Organizations
    (CIO) and the American Federation of Labor (AFL)
    merged, creating the AFLCIO, which represented
    over 90 percent of Americas 17.5 million union
  • In exchange for fewer strikes, corporate managers
    often cooperated with unions, agreeing to
    contracts that gave workers secure, predictable,
    and steadily rising incomes.
  • Consumer spending soared, and inflation was low
    yet the boon was marred by periodic bouts of
    recession and unemployment that particularly hurt
    low-income and nonwhite workers.

  • The sum of these union gains was a new
    sociological phenomenon, the "affluent" worker-as
    evidenced by relocation to the suburbs (half of
    an workers by 1965), by homeownership, by
    increased ownership of cars and other durable
    goods, and, an infallible sign of rising
    expectations, by installment buying. For union
    workers, the contract became, as Reuther boasted,
    a passport into the middle class.
  • The labor-management accord that generated
    labor's good life seemed in the 1950s to be
    absolutely secure. The union rivalries of the
    1930s had abated. In 1955, the industrial-union
    and craft-union wings joined together in the
    AFt-CIO, representing 90 percent of the nation's
    17.5 million union members.

  • Though impressive, the labor-management accord
    was never as durable as it seemed.
    Vulnerabilities lurked, even in the accord's
    heyday. For one thing, the sheltered markets -the
    essential condition- were in fact quite fragile.
  • The postwar labor-management accord. it turns
    out. was a transitory event. not a permanent
    condition of American economic life. And, in a
    larger sense. that was true of the postwar boom.
    It was a transitory event, not a permanent
  • II. The Affluent Society

The Affiuent Society
The Suburban Explosion
  • Americans began to leave older cities in the
    North and Midwest for newer ones in the South and
    West there was also a major shift from city to
    the suburbs.

  • Both processes were stimulated by the dramatic
    growth of a car culture and the federal
    governments support of housing and highway
  • By 1960 more Americans lived in suburbs than in
    cities because few new dwellings had been built
    during the depression or war years, the country
    faced a housing shortage.

  • Arthur Levitt applied mass-production techniques
    to home construction other developers followed
    suit in subdivisions all over the country,
    hastening the exodus from farms and cities.

Abraham, William, and Alfred Levitt
  • Before and after aerials showing Island Trees,
    New York, site of the first Levittown

(No Transcript)
(No Transcript)
(No Transcript)
(No Transcript)
  • The first Levittown sprang to life in 1947 on
    1200 acres of potato fields on Long Island. To
    speed production and cut costs, Levitt offered
    just two basic house types. The scale of the
    project attracted national attention and made
    Levitt and Sons a household name. Veterans and
    their families applied by the thousands to rent
    and later buy one of Levitts mass-produced

  • Many homes were financed with mortgages from the
    Federal Housing Administration (FHA) and the
    Veterans Administration at rates dramatically
    lower than those offered by private lenders
    demonstrating the way the federal government was
    entering and influencing daily life.

  • New suburban homes, as well as their funding,
    were reserved mostly for whites some homeowners
    had to sign a restrictive covenant prohibiting
    occupation in the development by blacks, Asians,
    or Jews.
  • Although Shelley v. Kraemer (1948) ruled that
    restrictive covenants were illegal, the practice
    continued until the civil rights laws of the
    1960s banned private discrimination.

  • New growth patterns were most striking in the
    South and West, where inexpensive land,
    unorganized labor, low taxes, and warm climates
    beckoned California grew the most rapidly.
  • Automobiles were essential to the growth of
    suburbs and to the development of the Sun Belt
    the 1950s gas guzzlers became symbols of status
    and success.

  • Highways were funded by federal government
    programs such as the National Interstate and
    Defense Highway Act of 1956 air pollution and
    traffic jams soon became problems in cities.
  • As Americans began to drive to suburban shopping
    malls and supermarkets, downtown retail economy
    dried up, helping to precipitate the decay of the
    central cities.

  • Lower Bucks was close to population centers
    (Philadelphia and Trenton), improved highways
    (including the Pennsylvania Turnpike) and, best
    of all, jobs. U.S. Steel broke ground for its new
    Fairless Works Division along the western bank of
    the Delaware River in early 1951. At the time,
    the Fairless Works was the second largest
    integrated plant on the East Coast, and the 12th
    largest steel mill in the country.

(No Transcript)
  • The new suburbs combined country comforts with
    city conveniences. With the help of modern
    production and financing methods, builders like
    Levitt and Sons made the American dream of
    homeownership affordable to millions.

(No Transcript)
The Search for Security
  • There was a reason for Congress calling the 1956
    legislation creating America's modern freeway
    system the National Interstate and Defense
    Highways Act. The four-lane freeways, used every
    day by commuters, might some day, in a nuclear
    war, evacuate them to safety. That captured as
    well as anything the underside of postwar life,
    when suburban living abided side by side with the
    shadow of annihilation.

  • The cold war, reaching as it did across the
    globe, was omnipresent at home as well.
  • The nuclear standoff with the Soviet Union was
    alarming. Bomb shelters and civil defense drills
    provided a daily reminder of mushroom clouds. In
    the late 1950s, a small but growing number of
    citizens raised questions about radioactive
    fallout from above-ground bomb tests.

(No Transcript)
(No Transcript)
(No Transcript)
  • By the late 1950s, public concern over nuclear
    testing had become a high-profile issue, and new
    antinuclear groups such as SANE (the National
    Committee for a Sane Nuclear Policy) and
    Physicians for Social Responsibility called for
    an international test ban.

  • After the depression, Americans yearned for
    security and a reaffirmation of traditional this
    yearning manifested itself in a renewed national
    emphasis on religion and an ecumenical movement
    in American churches.

  • Church membership jumped from 49 percent of the
    population in 1940 to 70 percent in 1960. People
    flocked especially into the evangelical
    Protestant denominations, which benefited from a
    remarkable new crop of preachers. Most notable
    was the young Reverend Billy Graham, who made
    brilliant use of television, radio, and
    advertising to spread the Gospel.
  • The resurgence of religion, despite its
    evangelical bent, had a distinctly moderate tone.
    An ecumenical movement bringing Catholics,
    Protestants, and Jews together flourished, and so
    did a concern for the here and now.

(No Transcript)
  • In 1954, the phrase under God was inserted into
    the Pledge of Allegiance, and in 1956 Congress
    added In God We Trust to all U.S. coins.
  • Norman Vincent Peales The Power of Positive
    Thinking embodied the trend toward the
    therapeutic use of religion in order to assist
    Americans in coping with the stresses of modern

(No Transcript)
  • Critics suggested that middle-class interest in
    religion stemmed not so much from a renewed
    spirituality as from a surging impulse toward
    conformity however, the revival nonetheless
    spoke to Americans search for spiritual meaning
    in uncertain times.

American Life during the Baby Boom
  • The postwar years are remembered as a time of
    affluence and stability, when Americans enjoyed
    an optimistic faith in progress and technology
    and a serene family-centered culture, reflected
    in a booming birthrate known as the baby boom and
    enshrined in television sitcoms such as Father
    Knows Best.
  • This powerful myth has some truth to it, but does
    not do justice to this complex period of economic
    and social transformation, which included
    challenges to the status quo as well as

(No Transcript)
(No Transcript)
Consumer Culture
  • In some respects, postwar consumerism seemed like
    a return to the 1920s-an abundance of new gadgets
    and appliances, more leisure time, the craze for
    automobiles, and new types of mass media. Yet
    there was a significant difference. In the 1950s,
    consumption became associated with citizenship.
    Buying things, once a sign of personal
    indulgence, now meant fully participating in
    American society and, moreover, fulfilling a
    social responsibility.
  • As in the past, product makers sought to
    stimulate consumer demand through aggressive
    advertising. More money was spent in 1951 on
    advertising (6.5 billion) than on primary and
    secondary education (5 billion).

  • Consumers had more free time in which to spend
    their money millions took to the interstate
    highways, spurring dramatic growth in motel
    chains, restaurants, and fast-food eateries.
  • Perhaps the most significant hallmark of postwar
    consumer culture was television, which supplanted
    radio as the chief diffuser of popular culture
    it portrayed American families as white,
    middle-class suburbanites, and nonwhite
    characters were usually servants.

  • The new prosperity of the 1950s was aided by a
    dramatic increase in consumer credit, which
    enabled families to stretch their incomes
    between 1946 and 1958 short-term consumer credit
    rose from 8.4 billion to almost 45 billion.

  • The Diners Club introduced the first credit card
    in 1950, followed by the American Express card
    and Bank Americard in 1959 by the 1970s, the
    credit card had revolutionized personal and
    family finances.
  • Aggressive advertising by corporations
    contributed to the massive increase in consumer

  • Advertising heavily promoted the appliances that
    began to fill the suburban kitchen. In 1946
    automatic washing machines replaced the old
    machines with hand-cranked wringers, and clothes
    dryers also came on the market.
  • TV's leap to cultural prominence was swift and
    overpowering. There were only 7,000 sets in
    American homes in 1947, yet a year later the CBS
    and NBC radio networks began offering regular
    programming, and by 1950 Americans owned 7.3
    million TV sets. Ten years later, 87 percent of
    American homes had at least one television set.

  • The Federal Communications Commissioner called
    television a vast wasteland however, its
    images of postwar family life and society fit
    with the social expectations of many Americans.

  • What Americans saw on television, besides the
    omnipresent commercials, was an overwhelmingly
    white, Anglo-Saxon world of nuclear families,
    suburban homes, and middle-class life.

(No Transcript)
(No Transcript)
(No Transcript)
The Baby Boom
  • Postwar family demographics changed from previous
    years marriages were remarkably stable, there
    was a drop in the average age at marriage, and
    the birthrate shot up the American population
    rose dramatically from 140 million in 1945 to 179
    million in 1960, and to 203 million in 1970.

  • The baby boom prompted a major expansion in the
    nations education system, and babies consumer
    needs helped to fuel the economy.
  • To keep all those baby boom children healthy and
    happy, middle-class parents increasingly relied
    on the advice of experts. Dr. Benjamin Spock's
    best-selling Baby and Child Care sold a million
    copies a year after its publication in 1946.
    Spock urged mothers to abandon the rigid feeding
    and baby care schedules of an earlier generation.
  • Coupled with national defense expenditures,
    family spending on consumer goods fueled
    unparalleled prosperity and economic growth in
    the 1950s and 1960s.

Contradictions in Womens Lives
  • Parents of baby boomers were expected to adhere
    to rigid gender roles as a way of maintaining the
    family and undergirding the social order.
  • Men were expected to conform to an idea that
    emphasized their role as responsible
    breadwinners, while women were advised that their
    proper place was in the home.

  • . Endorsing what Betty Friedan called the
    "feminine mystique" - the ideal that "the highest
    value and the only commitment for women is the
    fulfillment of their own femininity" -
    psychologists pronounced motherhood the only
    "normal" female sex role and berated mothers who
    worked outside the home.

(No Transcript)
  • Many working-class women embraced their new roles
    as housewives, while at the height of the postwar
    period more than a third of women held jobs
    outside the home and coincided with a dramatic
    rise in the number of older, married,
    middle-class women who took jobs.
  • Women justified their jobs as an extension of
    their family responsibilities, enabling their
    families to enjoy more of the fruits of the
    consumer -culture.

  • Working women still bore full responsibility for
    child care and household management allowing
    families and society to avoid facing the social
    implications of their new roles, departing
    significantly from the cultural stereotypes.

Youth Culture and Challenges to Conformity
  • The emergence of a mass youth culture had its
    roots in the democratization of education and the
    increasing purchasing power of teenagers.
  • Americas youth were eager to escape suburban
    conformity, and they became a distinct new market
    that advertisers eagerly exploited.

  • What really defined this generations youth
    culture was its music the rock n roll that
    teens were attracted to in the 1950s was seen by
    white adults as an invitation to racemixing,
    sexual promiscuity, and juvenile delinquency.
  • In major cities, gay men and women founded gay
    rights organizations, but many gays were still
    perceived as a threat to mainstream sexual and
    cultural norms and therefore remained closeted.

  • Postwar artists,musicians, and writers expressed
    their alienation from mainstream society through
    intensely personal, introspective art forms.
  • Jackson Pollock and other painters rejected the
    social realism of the 1930s for an unconventional
    style that became known as abstract
    expressionism, which captured the chaotic
    atmosphere of the nuclear age.

(No Transcript)
  • A similar trend developed in jazz, as black
    musicians originated a hard-driving
    improvisational style known as bebop.
  • The Beats were a group of writers and poets who
    were both literary innovators and outspoken
    social critics of middle-class conformity,
    corporate capitalism, and suburban materialism,
    who inspired a new generation of rebels in the

(No Transcript)
The Other America
International and Domestic Migration toCities
  • With jobs and financial resources flowing to the
    suburbs, urban newcomers inherited a declining
    economy and a decaying environmentthe Other
  • The War Brides Act, the Displaced Persons Act,
    the McCarran-Walter Act, and the repeal of the
    Chinese Exclusion Act all helped to create an
    influx of immigrants into American cities.

  • The federal government welcomed Mexican labor
    under its bracero program but deported those who
    stayed illegally 4 million Mexicans were
    deported during Operation Wetback.
  • Residents of Puerto Rico had been American
    citizens since 1917, so they were not subject to
    immigration laws they became Americas first
    group to immigrate by air.
  • Cuban refugees were the third largest group of
    Spanish-speaking immigrants the Cuban refugee
    community turned Miami into a cosmopolitan,
    bilingual city almost overnight.

  • Internal migration from rural areas brought large
    numbers of people to the cities, especially
    African Americans, after the introduction of
    innovations like the mechanical cotton picker,
    which reduced southern demand for labor.
  • By 1960, about half of the nations black
    population was living outside the South, compared
    with only 23 percent before World War II.
  • After the 1953 Termination programs, many
    Indians settled together in poor urban
    neighborhoods alongside other nonwhite groups
    many found it difficult to adjust to an urban
    environment and culture.

The Urban Crisis
  • Between 1950 and 1960, the nations twelve
    largest cities lost 3.6 million whites and gained
    4.5 million nonwhites.
  • As affluent whites left the cities, urban tax
    revenues shrank, leading to the decay of services
    and infrastructure growing racial fears
    accelerated white flight to the suburbs in the

  • In the inner cities, housing continued to be a
    crucial problem urban renewal produced grim
    high-rise housing projects that destroyed
    community bonds and created anonymous open areas
    that were vulnerable to crime.
  • Postwar urban areas increasingly became places of
    last resort for Americas poor once there, they
    faced unemployment, racial hostilities, and
    institutional barriers to mobility.

  • Two separate Americas emerged a largely white
    society in the suburbs and an inner city
    populated by blacks, Latinos, and other
    disadvantaged groups.
  • In the turbulent decade to come, the contrast
    between suburban affluence and the other
    America, would spawn growing demands for social
    change that the nations leaders in the 1960s
    could not ignore.

  • In 1962, the Swedish sociologist Gunnar Myrdal
    (author of An American Dilemma, a pioneering book
    about the country's race relations) wondered
    whether shrinking economic opportunity in the
    United States might not trap the unemployed and
    underemployed at the bottom of society.
  • Myrdal's term underclass-referring to a
    population permanently mired in poverty and
    dependency-would figure centrally in future
    American debates about social policy.

The Emerging Civil Rights Struggle
Civil Rights under Truman
  • Truman offered support for civil rights not only
    because he wanted to solidify the Democrats hold
    on African American voters but also because he
    was concerned about
  • Americas image abroad.
  • Lacking a popular mandate on civil rights, Truman
    turned to executive action he appointed the
    National Civil Rights Commission in 1946, ordered
    the Justice Department to prepare a brief for
    Shelley v. Kraemer (1948), which ruled against
    discrimination in home buying, and signed an
    executive order to desegregate the army in 1948.

  • The Kraemers were a white couple who owned a
    residence in a Missouri neighborhood governed by
    a restrictive covenant. This was a private
    agreement that prevented blacks from owning
    property in the Kraemers' subdivision. The
    Shelleys were a black couple who moved into the
    Kraemers neighborhood. The Kraemers went to court
    to enforce the restrictive covenant against the
  • Question Presented
  • Does the enforcement of a racially restrictive
    covenant violate the Equal Protection Clause of
    the 14th Amendment?
  • Conclusion
  • State courts could not constitutionally prevent
    the sale of real property to blacks even if that
    property is covered by a racially restrictive
    covenant. Standing alone, racially restrictive
    covenants violate no rights. However, their
    enforcement by state court injunctions constitute
    state action in violation of the 14th Amendment.

  • Southern conservatives blocked Trumans proposals
    for a federal anti-lynching law, federal
    protection of voting rights, and a federal agency
    to guarantee equal employment opportunity.

  • In 1946 he appointed a National Civil Rights
    Commission, whose 1947 report called for robust
    federal action On behalf of civil rights. In
    1948, under pressure from A. Phillip Randolph's
    Committee against Jim Crow in Military Service,
    Truman signed an executive order desegregating
    the armed forces.

Challenging Segregation
  • Legal segregation of the races still governed
    southern society in the early 1950s whites and
    blacks were segregated in restaurants, waiting
    rooms and toilets at bus and train stations, and
    all forms of public transportation were rigidly
    segregated, with even drinking fountains being
    labeled White and Colored.

(No Transcript)
Whites Only Waiting Room
  • A black man is ordered out of a whites only
    waiting room. Separate facilities for blacks and
    whites were maintained throughout the South from
    the end of the 19th century until the 1960s.

(No Transcript)
(No Transcript)
(No Transcript)
(No Transcript)
(No Transcript)
(No Transcript)
(No Transcript)
(No Transcript)
(No Transcript)
(No Transcript)
(No Transcript)
" A rest stop for Greyhound bus passengers on the
way from Louisville, Kentucky to Nashville,
Tennessee, with separate accommodations for
colored passengers."
(No Transcript)
(No Transcript)
  • With Dwight Eisenhower as president, civil rights
    no longer had a champion in the White House. In
    the meantime, however, NAACP lawyers Thurgood
    Marshall and William Hastie had been preparing
    the legal ground in a series of test cases
    challenging racial discrimination, and in 1954
    they hit pay dirt.

  • The first significant civil rights victory came
    in 1954. In Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka
    (1954), the Supreme Court overturned the
    long-standing separate but equal doctrine of
    Plessy v. Ferguson (1896).

  • A landmark civil rights case. the Brown v. Board
    of Education decision involved Linda Brown. a
    black pupil in Topeka. Kansas. who had been
    forced to attend a distant segregated school
    rather than the nearby white elementary school.
    The NAACP's chief counsel. Thurgood Marshall.
    argued that such segregation, mandated by the
    Topeka Board of Education, was unconstitutional
    because it denied Linda Brown the "equal
    protection of the laws" guaranteed by the
    Fourteenth Amendment.
  • In a unanimous decision on May 17. 1954. the
    Supreme Court agreed. overturning the "separate
    but equal" doctrine of Plessy v. Ferguson.

  • Does segregation of children in public schools
    solely on the basis of race, even though the
    physical facilities and other "tangible" factors
    may be equal, deprive the children of the
    minority group of equal educational
    opportunities? We believe that it does.

  • Over the next several years, the Supreme Court
    used the Brown case to overturn segregation in
    public recreation areas, transportation, and
  • In the Southern Manifesto of 1956, southern
    members of Congress denounced the Brown decision
    as an abuse of judicial power and encouraged
    their constituents to defy the ruling White
    Citizens Councils in the South sprouted up
    dedicated to blocking school integration and
    other civil rights measures and the ranks of the
    Ku Klux Klan (KKK) swelled.

  • President Eisenhower accepted the Brown decision
    as the law of the land. but he thought it was a
    mistake and was not happy about committing
    federal power to enforce it.

  • A crisis in Little Rock. Arkansas, finally forced
    his hand. In September 1957, nine black students
    attempted to enroll at the all-white Central High
    School. Governor Orval Faubus called out the
    National Guard to bar them. Then the mob took
    over. Every day the nine students had to run a
    gauntlet of angry whites chanting "Go back to the
  • As the vicious scenes played out on television
    night after night, Eisenhower acted. He sent
    1,000 federal troops to Little Rock and
    nationalized the Arkansas National Guard,
    ordering them to protect the black students.
    Eisenhower thus became the first president since
    Reconstruction to use federal troops to enforce
    the rights of blacks.

  • President Eisenhower ordered the 101st Airborne
    Division into Little Rock to insure the safety of
    the "Little Rock Nine" and that the rulings of
    the Supreme Court were upheld.
  • The Brown decision validated the NAACP's legal
    strategy, but white resistance also revealed that
    winning in court was not enough. Prompted by one
    small act of defiance, southern black leaders
    embraced nonviolent protest.

(No Transcript)
(No Transcript)
(No Transcript)
(No Transcript)
(No Transcript)
(No Transcript)
Little Rock Police work to keep protesters behind
barricades at Central High on Sept. 27, 1957.
  • Students wait beside Arkansas National Guard
    troops blocking their admission to Little Rock
    Central High.

(No Transcript)
(No Transcript)
(No Transcript)
  • Rosa Parkss refusal to give up her bus seat to a
    white person prompted the 381-day 1956 Montgomery
    bus boycott, which ended only when the Supreme
    Court declared bus segregation unconstitutional.

  • Once the die was cast, the black community turned
    for leadership to the Reverend Martin Luther King
    Jr., the recently appointed pastor of
    Montgomery's Dexter Street Baptist Church. The
    son of a prominent black minister in Atlanta,
    King embraced the teachings of Mahatma Gandhi
    (learned from Thoreau), whose campaigns of
    passive resistance had led to India's
    independence from Britain in 1947.

  • After Rosa Parks' arrest. King endorsed a plan by
    a local black women's organization to boycott
    Montgomery's bus system until it was integrated.
    Once the die was cast, the black community turned
    for leadership to the Reverend Martin Luther King
    Jr., the recently appointed pastor of
    Montgomery's Dexter Street Baptist Church.

  • The Montgomery bus boycott catapulted King to
    national prominence. In 1957, along with the
    Reverend Ralph Abernathy, he founded the Southern
    Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) , based
    in Atlanta. The black church, long the center of
    African American social and cultural life, now
    lent its moral and organizational strength to the
    civil rights movement.

  • The battle for civil rights entered a new phase
    in Greensboro, North Carolina, on February I,
    1960, when four black college students took seats
    at the "whites-only" lunch counter at the local
    Woolworth's. They were determined to "sit in"
    until they were served. Although they were
    arrested, the sit-in tactic workedthe
    Woolworth's lunch counter was desegregated-and
    sit-ins quickly spread to other southern cities.
  • The victories so far had been limited, but the
    groundwork was laid for a civil rights offensive
    that would transform the nation's race relations.

(No Transcript)
(No Transcript)
(No Transcript)