Civil Rights Movement: Desegregation Summary & AnalysisThe Big Picture: Who, What, When, Where & (Especially) WhyThe Rising Tide of DiscontentIn the early 1940s, a public opinion survey revealed that the vast majority of white Americans believed blacks were content with their social and economic conditions. They were quite wrong. Although the passage of the Thirteenth Amendmentin 1865 brought an end to the institution of slavery in the United States, black Americans had learned again and again, year after year, that the definition of "freedom" depended upon many things: the goals of those in political power, the national economy, international pressures, the mood of the nation, and the strength of the black masses and their leaders to influence all of the above. Since Radical Reconstruction, the nation's first great experiment in interracial democracy, African-Americans discovered that federal commitment to black suffrage, employment, land ownership, and civil rights was fleeting. Blacks
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