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1. Statement of Topic:

African Americans

2. Events

Event 1: 1877 to 1945

Event: Civil Rights Cases

When: 1883

Where: Southern States

Who: Supreme Court, African Americans, White Southerners

Why: Supreme Court overturned the Civil Rights Act of 1875 had guaranteed equal access in public accommodations. Its rulings in the Civil Rights Cases (1883) which further declared that neither the 13th nor the 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution also empowered the federal government to protect African Americans from the actions of individuals.

How: How is this event historically significant?

The 13th and the 14th amendments applied, according to the court, only to discrimination by state or local governments. The federal government had no ability to protect African Americans from discrimination practiced by individuals or businesses. Southern business owners responded quickly by enacting new Jim Crow policies so as to prevent African Americans from riding in railcars with Whites and separating the races in, schools, restaurants, hospitals, and even public toilet facilities. “Whites only” signs began to appear across the region and would be sanctioned by the U.S. Supreme Court 13 years later.

Event 2: 1877 to 1945

Event: Pleassy vs. Fergusson “Separate but Equal”

When: 1896

Where: Nation Wide but primarily in Southern states

Who: Supreme Court, African Americans

Why: 1896 Supreme Court ruling in Plessy v. Ferguson made “separate but equal” possible across the South and enabled the introduction of even more restrictive segregation. The court applied the separation policy to public schools in Cumming v. Richmond County Board of Education after three year when decision was made. Thus, allowing states and districts to establish separate schools for African American and White children even where facilities for African American students did not exist.

How: How is this event historically significant?

The decision became a landmark case, one that set a legal precedent by which other rulings would be measured.

Event 3: 1877 to 1945

Event: Chicago Race Riot (Red Summer)

When: Summer of 1919

Where: Chicago Illinois

Who: African Americans, White Americans

Why: The conflict started when an African American boy violated an unwritten law by visiting a “White beach” as well as entering the water in a raft. White boys began to throw rocks at him, eventually knocking him off the raft. The boy could not recover, and he drowned. Some nearby African Americans pleaded with the police to arrest the stone-throwing boys, but they would not.

From this epicenter, African Americans reacted violently to the failure to uphold justice, and the fighting spread throughout Chicago (Sandburg, 1919). Groups of armed Whites began heading toward the African American section of the city, where they shot their guns into crowds of gathering African Americans. One casualty was an African American soldier who was walking along the street, limping from a wound incurred fighting for the nation in the war just months before. Moments after he sarcastically remarked on the welcome home he was receiving; several Whites beat him to death

How: This event demonstrated the change in the African American mindset that they were no longer going to tolerate oppression and was willing to take up arms to defend themselves and members of their community. This riot was one of 21 riots that took place across the nation.

Event 4: 1945 to the present

Event: World War II

When: 1940-1945

Where: Various countries throughout the world including Japan, Europe, Russia

Who: African Americans. An estimated 60,000 African Americans moved to Detroit between 1940 and 1946, approximately doubling the number of African Americans in that city’s workforce. In Chicago, another city with important wartime industries, a similar influx of 60,000 African Americans swelled the workforce between the attack on Pearl Harbor and mid-1944 (Atleson, 1998).

Why: What events or issues contributed to this event happening?

During World War II all parts of American society contributed to the war effort.

How: How is this event historically significant?

Black Americans recognized the paradox of fighting a world war for the "four freedoms" while being subjected to prejudicial practices in the United States. Thus, as the war unfolded, they vehemently insisted on the privileges of full citizenship. African Americans were ready to work and fight for their country, but at the same time they demanded an end to the discrimination against them.

To that end, over 2.5 million African-American men registered for the draft, and black women volunteered in large numbers. While serving in the Army, Army Air Forces, Navy, Marine Corps, and Coast Guard, they experienced continuing discrimination and segregation. Despite these impediments, many African-American men and women met the challenge and persevered. They served with distinction, made valuable contributions to the war effort, and earned well-deserved praise and commendations for their struggles and sacrifices.

3. Sources

Primary Sources

APA Citation for Primary Source 1:

Howard Liberman 208-NP-2VV-2. (african_americans_wwii_248.jpg)

Retrieved Form:

Annotation for Primary Source 1:

Howard Liberman 208-NP-2VV-2. (african_americans_wwii_248.jpg)

This is a picture retrieved from National Archives is a depiction of black workers contributing to the war efforts at home working in factories to produce the necessary equipment to fight the war overseas. It shows 3 back men completing the final touches in the production of a US war plane. This source will assist in demonstrating black contribution the during WWII war effort.

APA Citation for Primary Source 2:

February 1944. 80-G-54413. (african_americans_wwii_044.jpg)

Retrieved from:

Annotation for Primary Source 2:

Members of the 99th Fighter Squadron of the Army Air Forces, famous all-Negro outfit, who were rapidly making themselves feared by enemy pilots, pose for a picture at the Anzio beachhead. In the foreground, head bared, is 1st Lt. Andrew Lane." This picture demonstrates not only the fighting spirit in the African American corps but also the success and respect earned while fighting.

Secondary Sources

APA Citation for Secondary Source 1:

John Vernon (2008, Vol. 40, No. 1) Jim Crow, Meet Lieutenant Robinson A 1944 Court-Martial Retrieved from:

Annotation for Secondary Source 1:

John Vernon (2008, Vol. 40, No. 1) Jim Crow, Meet Lieutenant Robinson A 1944 Court-Martial

This Article focused on racism and segregation that African American experienced. The article also documented the subsequent court martial of A young African American Army officer attached to an all-black unit at Camp Hood was subjected to a general court-martial—for resisting usual southern protocol and refusing to move to the back of the bus on the military post when directed by the driver to do so. The article illustrated the struggles African Americans continued to face during the events of World War II while serving their country and contributing the same as white Americans. APA Citation for Secondary Source 2:

MCWHIRTER, C. (2011). Carl Sandburg's Reporting Foretold the Chicago Race Riots of 1919. Nieman Reports, 65(3), 31-34. Annotation for Secondary Source 2:

This article was written by Cameron Whither. It describes the events as described by eyewitness accounts of Carl Sandburg’s. The article not only highlights the events which took place but also underscores the difference in how news were reported by different papers and media outlets with different agenda’s from the Black Perspective, White perspective, and the Government’s perspectives well as subsequent response.

4. Thesis Statement


Since 1776 the United States of America has been a beacon of freedom all over the world. This was right for all Americans’ immigrants with the exception of African slaves. The first African Slaves arrived the United States of America in 1619. This would last until 1865 and the end of the civil war. Though technically the practice of slavery had ended, African Americans continued to endure harsh mistreatment and racism for the next 100 years, in the 1960’s preceding the civil right movement that took place in that decade. History shows however that despite the mistreatment and extreme racism supported by our government, African Americans attempt to assimilate into white America never ceased. Even though they were mistreated, African Americans continued to contribute, not only to the building of the United States of America but made a significant contribution to its defense. African Americans throughout American history have been working toward not only equal rights, but equal treatment.

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