An integrated school in Washington, DC in 1955. Library of Congress, LC-U9-183B-20.
The Post War America Era was from 1946-1954. During this time, Americans explored the science of atomic energy, international peace and internal racial harmony. The rising demands of African Americans for true justice and equality led to the historic case of Brown v. Board of Education in 1954 where the U.S. Supreme Court overturned the 1896 decision of Plessy vs. Ferguson declaring the separate but equal policy unconstitutional. In 1948 President Harry S. Truman enacted executive order 9981 establishing equality of American citizens serving in the military.
The boon of postwar achievements soured residual effects from New Deal policies. The progressive aims of Roosevelt’s policy did not improve the lot of many working class and poor women, nor did the social security act extend to domestic workers. Compounded by class tensions between the college educated and working class, many working class women were literally fighting for survival, i.e. food, shelter and clothing. As a result, obtaining civil and political rights or becoming a separate black nation was not a priority.
“Even when the war lifted the nation out of economic stagnation, black women who could escape domestic work for the factory found themselves doing the dirtiest and hardest jobs, work often reserved for men. No matter how hard they worked during the Depression, and no matter how patriotic they were during the war, race and sex discrimination combined to deprive most African American females of a living wage at a time when black families needed their income more than ever.”6