The Civil Rights Movement: A product of U.S. WWII PropagandaEnder Rafael HoffmanHistory 2020: Survey United States HistoryApril 15, 2019
Hoffman 2In January 6th, 1941, in a speech addressed to Congress with the intent of moving the nation away from a foreign policy of neutrality in the heat of an escalating war overseas, President Franklin D. Roosevelt spoke of a future world order founded on the essential “human freedoms”: freedom of speech, freedom of worship, freedom from want, and freedom from fear.1This very speech turned out to be the propagandistic fuel that helped the American government generate millions of posters, words and images aimed at inspiring and persuading so many Americans into taking arms and doing their part in the middle of this world crisis. Convincing people that it was the duty of this “free nation” to protect these basic human rights from tyrannical dominion. Simultaneously, these talks of human inherited rights during the critical WWII era in the United States provided a set standard from which some people could contrast the reality of things. That the egalitarian rhetoric that some call the American creed represented amulti-race society that systematically denied opportunities, even rights, to vast numbers of its citizens. The American government’s need to mobilize all groups behind a war effort through thisunity campaign exposed these social problems and brought them into broad day light.2This proved to be fertile grounds for many future American activists who used this same language to promote their cause.The African American struggle post emancipation in 1865 took many forms throughout the United States before the Civil Rights Act of 1964 was passed. From Jim Crow laws that greatly restricted black suffrage in the South, to hate fueled lynching practices by whites that took the lives of so many innocent black Americans. The United States when president Franklin D. Roosevelt delivered his four freedoms address to Congress was still very much deeply divided, with African Americans still denied many rights and struggling to benefit from the freedoms that the president said were to be enjoyed by everyone “everywhere in the world.”3Despite the war
Hoffman 3mobilization effort, which included promoting a unity campaign that sought to engage the energies of all Americans, even those who traditionally had been refused economic opportunities and rights. All of this was done within the parameters set by traditions of sexism, racism and segregation.4This, of course, created an environment of inequality, where groups of people didn’t enjoy certain rights or prosperity that their more fortunate counterparts did. Black Americans, whom quickly discovered early on that they weren’t benefitting from the defense jobs now created by the war time mobilization, were among the most affected by these unfair environments.
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