Persons of color in the U.S. enjoyed vastly different economic and social circumstances 40 years following the 1964 signing of the Civil Rights Act. Living as a black person in the 1990’s and beyond is challengingThe inequality and hardships associated with racism and segregation persist but all would agree not to the extent of the 1950s and years prior when blacks were treated as second class citizens with regard to almost every aspect of public life. Two generations later laws have changed and minds have evolved. Black Americans play an essential role in the cultural, social and political framework of the nation. They have become a significant constituent of one of the country’s main political parties, have been fully integrated, both legally and socially speaking, into the armed forces, constitute more than 10 percent of Army officers and are over-represented culturally in areas of sports, music, TV and movies. Though blacks are still not represented proportionately in corporate boardrooms, the rate of ascent in this area has been impressive. Black Americans have made great strides in many areas since the 1950s but inequality and racism is still a reality affecting health, political, social and economic conditions for this long oppressed segment of society. Soldiers returned from World War II to n American on the precipice of an economic boom. The financially comfortable middle class segment of society was rapidly expanding. Jobs were plentiful, new homes were being built by the hundreds of thousands in pristine new suburbs amid the rolling hills outside of town and happy families were growing. The “American Dream” was unfolding all across the country, at least for white families. During this time of unprecedented prosperity black families still faced discrimination in all facets of life. Blacks were not allowed to live among the whites in the suburbs and were kept out of the expanding job pool due to widespread employer discrimination policies. Therefore they were forced to reside in older urban neighborhoods taking the place of whites who had fled en masse to greener pastures. Even job candidates who were well qualified routinely faced employment discrimination during the 1950s. The majority of black men, no matter their background, had no choice but to settle for demeaning unskilled jobs for low pay. Jim Crow laws were still in effect throughout the southern (ex-Confederate) states during the 1950s. These laws were meant solely to repress black citizens by segregating the races into “separate but equal” segments of society. Of course separate is never equal especially not for black southerners prior to the Civil Right Act which abolished these repressive state and local statures. Jim Crow laws discouraged blacks from by forcing people to take literacy tests and collecting “poll taxes” to be able to vote. Bigotry was practiced openly and encouraged by laws. Black children attended sub-standard schools with little hope of gaining a good paying job after graduation. The races were divided physically, culturally and economically. Prior to the war the best many black families could do is work as sharecroppers, tending the fields like they did a century before and for very low wages. Following the war farming became more mechanized. Blacks workers had no place to go for work except North to cities like Detroit where a shortage of labor existed. A steady migration of black families occurred throughout the 1950s creating the ghettos that remain to this day. (Enisuoh, 2005). Forty years after the Jim Crow era, black families are the poorest of all other ethnic or racial groups in the country. Nearly a third of black children live at or below the poverty line and their odds of reaching middle class status are significantly less than those of poor white children. The fractured nature of the black family structure is not just a stereotype and is not the only reason for these gaps
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Persons of color in the U.S. enjoyed vastly different economic and social circumstances 40 years following the 1964 signing of the Civil Rights Act. Living as a black person in the 1990’s and beyond is challenging…
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