Lynching was a photographic sport for some. There have been reports of lynchings with 15,000 Whites in attendance just to witness the horrible atrocity, for entertainment. Whites and Jewish men across America sent picture postcards of lynchings they had witnessed, along with their newspaper articles or advertisements that went along with the photo. Many of the printing companies were Jewish-owned, as were many of the newspapers. Even the Nazis, who Jews would encounter in Europe a few years later, didn't sell souvenirs of those killed at Auschwitz.
This marked an era where press started having an even-heavier influence in how African Americans would be perceived in the United States. Newspapers were unceasingly apt to criticize lynchings in editorials, yet many newspapers persisted in running stories about "lynching parties". It influenced disgusting violence and racial hatred, and promoted White unity by the murdering of Blacks. New York Times was purchased by Jews during this time, and the Washington Post followed in the same steps shortly afterwards - they have remained the primary operators of those publications since. Those 2 newspapers were the top-trusted, most popular, and respected news sources in the United States at the time. The Jewish man who purchased the Washington Post, Eugene Meyer, didn't even want to reveal his Jewish ancestry, instead opting to "pass" as White, until he was ousted - he was uber conservative, and felt he was a White American at heart, rather than a Jew. His newspaper portrayed Blacks to deserve the killings they endured at the hands of White lynch mobs, as well as the violence, and injustices that were happening to them. Newspaper stories identified the race of the accused, and if Black, assumed without question that the person was guilty, and used a number of dehumanizing terms to label the Black person (e.g. "wretch," "fiend," and "desperado"). In addition, the newspapers wrote that the Black person's race predisposed him to commit violent crimes, particularly rape, and would defend the lynching of Black individuals - even Black children.
The media encouragement fueled the fire for the Whites that already hated Blacks, and shifted opinions about the ones that supported them. With monies earned primarily in advertisements and publishing, Jews would make huge investments in the entertainment industry, particularly in film. While doing so, they would make millions of dollars by exploiting racist stereotypes, while unknowingly reviving Southern White pride. The horrible propaganda that Jews created that destroyed the image of African Americans would happen to their own race within years, when Nazi Germany released similar propaganda throughout Germany and sought to exterminate them from Europe.
Walt Disney, a Jewish entrepreneur, cartoonist, animator, voice actor, and film producer, would be one of the biggest contributors to creating negative, long-lasting stereotypes about African Americans. His Mickey Mouse cartoon empire was among the most offensive with false profiles of those with African descent, and the creation of hateful stereotypes. Unlike typical portrayals of Blacks as sexual aggressors, unintelligent, savages, - which is how most Whites stereotyped them – Disney added a new, unexpected one to the list: cannibalism. In Trader Mickey, Mickey Mouse is captured by African natives – who are portrayed as cannibals – and thrown in a stew. Mickey would ultimately be released when he shows the Africans how to play music (Mickey plays a saxophone), and trades them his cargo. In Mickey’s Mellerdrama, Mickey Mouse dresses in full "blackface", and he and the gang put on a production of Uncle Tom’s Cabin – an American classic novel that is controversial for its racist nature, and excessive use of the word “nigger”. In Mickey’s Man Friday, Mickey Mouse befriends an African native, that Disney describes as “monkey face”, who is a cannibal. The African is saved by Mickey after his brother tries to eat him for dinner - the African then bows down to Mickey and gets a pat on the head, where Mickey then says “Hey, you be my man Friday. You Friday. Me Mickey”. "Friday" proceeds to tap dance for him. Cannibal Capers portrayed Blacks as cannibals, with skinny bodies, big fat lips, and communicating through clicking their mouths while natives in Africa – an offensive false portrayal that would stick with Africans for years.
To continue on the racist false propaganda against Blacks, and breaking high profits from it, Disney paid homage to Conservative White beliefs when they made the now-classic Songs of the South. The movie features Uncle Remus, an African American former slave, who happily tells White children stories about living in the South - all while living on the plantation that he was enslaved at years prior. It gave a disgustingly positive interpretation about the enslavement of Blacks and the “reconstruction era” that followed, from an African American who missed the "good ole days" he was living in whilst a slave. James Basket – who played Uncle Remus – infamously sang the song “zip a dee doo da”, which is a known Disney classic, and shown throughout most montages for Disney. The song inspired Walt Disney to build the attraction “Space Mountain” at Disneyland, and the song is played on repeat constantly while riders await their turn to ride the attraction. At the protest of Blacks years later, the movie has since been banned in the United States, deemed as racist, and there are no DVD or VHS copies of it available for purchase.
Disney wasn’t the only one who cashed in on racist and false, negative portrayals of African Americans. Warner Brothers had a series of cartoons that were prejudiced and gave racist portrayals of Blacks. Leon Schlesinger, a Jewish producer and founder of Warner Brothers Cartoon studio, spearheaded a slew of cartoons that were damaging to Blacks. In All This and Habbit Stew, Bugs Bunny – Warner Brothers' most popular and recognizable character – is hunted by a slow, ignorant, lazy African American hunter, with stereotypical offensive “blackface” features (e.g. dark skinned, big eyes, fat red/pink lips that cover most of the face). Warner Brothers described him as “Tex's Coon” , and in detail said he is a “big-lipped, sleepy-eyed country coon” – "coon" in itself is a derogatory term used to reference African Americans. In addition to other stereotypes about African Americans of this time, Tex's Coon can’t resist shooting dice, and challenges Bugs to a game, which he loses; Warner Brothers would reuse the dice-rolling stereotypes in the future. The cartoon has not been shown on television since 1968 after the protest of Blacks, and is considered one of the “censored eleven” cartoons that are banned from syndication - it is available online for viewing in its entirety. There was a special screening by Warning Brothers in 2010 in hopes to see if the audience would be receptive or desire to own the racist cartoons on DVD for a future penned release.
Gone with the Wind, the novel, released to rave reviews. Jewish media investors, who were steadily gaining prominence in film and entertainment circles, purchased the writes to the novel, and sought to produce a film. They hired a White screenwriter from Oakland, California named Sidney Howard to produce the film adaption of the novel, but soon after he wrote the screenplay, he was mysteriously killed - his tractor crushed him to death in his garage. David O. Selznick, Jewish Director and Producer, would soon cash in on Howard's work. The film adaption was set around the 19th-century American South (at the height of slavery), on a large plantation, and centered around Scarlett O'Hara - a racist strong-willed daughter of a wealthy plantation owner - and her love interests. Against the backdrop of The Civil War and the "reconstruction" period that followed shortly after, the story is told from the perspective of wealthy White racist Southerners. It was a historical revisionism that glorified slavery.
Birth of the Nation, a racist film glorifying the Ku Klux Klan, was the highest grossing and most successful American film in the United States, until Gone With the Wind was released. It would become the highest earning film made up to that point, and retained that record for over a quarter of a century - but adjusted for monetary inflation, it is still the most successful him in American box office history. It won 10 Academy Awards (it was nominated for 13), including Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actress and Best Supporting Actress - the latter made Hattie McDaniel the first African American to win an Acedamy Award for her portrayal of "Mammie" (the negative stereotype that was most popular in minstrel shows). In the role, McDaniel was a house slave who repeatedly scolds her owner's daughter (Scarlett O'hara) and her love interest (Clark Cable). The stereotypical character, of an overweight, loud-mouth but submissive house slave, who can cook, clean, and loyal to her White masters, would be challenging for Black women to break through in future films, and still remains a popular character for Whites, although the images have slightly altered. Like Birth of a Nation, Gone With the Wind would be selected to be preserved in the United States National Film Registery.
Blacks in New York were unaccepting of White violence and the racist behavior against them. They decided to give Whites what they wanted: to be left alone and stay out of there way. As Blacks got comfortable in their new Northern environments, assimilated into their work establishments, and started feeling a sense of normalcy, they started to formalize their culture. Blacks started congregating, building their own businesses and supporting businesses of other Blacks when Whites refused their money. African American contributions to business and arts birthed the Harlem Renaissance in the 1920s. Playwright Ridgely Torrence sparked the Harlem Renaissance when he rejected the minstrel show and "blackface" traditions that were dominating entertainment in America (at this time, blackface was still the #1 form of live entertainment), and started having African Americans portray themselves with complexity. Blacks were portrayed as being educated, prideful equal contributors, and innovative - far from the images Whites were selling. Others followed, determined to make changes to Black portrayals, including "the Father of Harlem Radicalism" Hubert Harrison, who founded the first popular newspaper of new Black ideals, and a new Black movement.
Jazz was birthed before the Harlem Renessaunce but found it's platform during it. Popularity soon spread throughout the country and was at an all-time high in the 1920s. Innovation and liveliness were vital characteristics for performers. Jazz musicians at the time such as Fats Waller, Duke Ellington, Jelly Roll Morton, and Willie "The Lion" Smith were extremely talented and competitive, and were considered to have laid the foundation for future musicians of their genre. They all gained popularity during the Harlem Renaissance.
It was during this period, that Whites struggled with their disdain for Blacks, because they were so attracted to the culture Blacks built. White playwrights, musical composers, designers, and novelists were quick to exploit African American style and their works. They would adopt Black melodies, rhythms, and harmonies, then incorporated them into concert pieces. They would even take poems written by Black slaves, or old hymns sang by Blacks in the plantation fields and used them in their lavish jazz-inspired orchestra ensembles. This would be a tradition that would follow in American music indefinitely, seeing difference only in genres over the decades. When Whites couldn't master the sound and stage appeal that Blacks possessed, they hired them to join their bands. But Blacks would still be considered second-class citizens and treated as such while in their bands. Blacks that joined White ensembles were unable to travel together with them, or stay in the same hotel quarters as they, enter through the same lobby or venue entrances, or eat together with them in public.
Outside of just entertainment, there was a new movement during the time that changed how Blacks were perceiving themselves, Whites, as well as Black oppression in America. Marcus Garvey was a Jamaican-born, British Black political leader, entreprenuer, and publisher, who had seen the injustices of what was happening to Blacks in the United Sates and wanted to put an end to it. His ideals focused primarily on how African Americans should stop fighting for the equality of their White neighbors, who were doing nothing but oppressing them and reminding them that they were not welcome, and start building for themselves. He promoted Black unity - which Whites at the time dubbed as "Black Nationalism" - and for African Americans to return to their ancestral lands in Africa. He was a central figure during this period, for his UNIA (United Negro Improvement Association) worked diligently with Blacks primarily in the North to not lose pride in who they were, even though they had been broken for hundreds of years through slavery, oppression, violence, genocide, and racism.
Garvey led the UNIA to hold an intertanional convention at Madison Square Garden in which 25,000 people gathered there just to hear him speak. At Garvey's peak in popularity, the UNIA had 4 million members, and Garvey owned and helped establish dozens of businesses that were owned and operated by Blacks in key metropolitan areas. In addition, Garvey formulated his own ship - the Black Star Line - that would promote transporting African Americans that wanted to leave the United States. He believed African Americans were doomed in the United States and promoted Blacks to own businesses for themselves "for no other reason than they are Black people seeking an industrial chance in a country that they have laboured for three hundred years to make great". He also addressed the oppression from Whites, and preached that Blacks were in "a time to lift one's voice against the savagery of a people who claim to be the dispensers of democracy".
Edwin P. Kilroe, Assistant District Attorney of New York, began an investigation into the activities of the UNIA. Shortly after, Marcus Garvey and the UNIA were being investigated by J Edgar Hoover - who just launched the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) - and were shut down when they claimed Garvey didn't properly purchase a ship that was sailing in US territory. The conviction he received was for mail fraud because of the mail that was carried on the ships. When the trial ended on 23 June 1923, Garvey had been sentenced to 5 years in prison. Garvey blamed Jewish jurors and the Jewish federal judge, Julian Mack, for his conviction. Garvey felt that they had been biased because of their political objections to his meeting with the acting imperial wizard of the Ku Klux Klan the year before. In 1928, Garvey would tell a journalist, "When they wanted to get me they had a Jewish judge try me, and a Jewish prosecutor. I would have been freed but two Jews on the jury held out against me 10 hours and succeeded in convicting me, whereupon the Jewish judge gave me the maximum penalty." He was spent 2 years in prison, when his sentence was finally commuted upon one condition: he would be deported back to Jamaica and was not allowed back in the United States.
Once J Edgar Hoover and the United States government was successful in incarcerating, silencing, and deporting Garvey, along with killing or incarceration of the small few Black leaders of the time, Blacks were lacking leaders that promoted the values that were keeping them motivated, united, and strong. Many Black businesses were shut down illegally by the government, and Black owners were driven out by the police, and White mobs. When Blacks started the 1920s decade with a revival of pride and self sufficiency, they would end the decade broken, again. The Harlem Renaissance felt like a 10 year party for Blacks who felt like they were "alive for the first time", reborn as humans rather than the slaves they used to be, or the stereotypes being sold about them. But when racist Whites had enough of Black businesses competing - or overpowering - theirs, saw threats of dominance, and wealth pouring in for Blacks that they couldn't touch, they found creative ways to end it.
From the very start of the 1930s and throughout the rest of the decade, African Americans found it all but impossible to find jobs. While they were riding high on the new lives they got to experience in the Roaring 20s, they would face a new reality in the 1930s. Major metropolitan cities like New York, Philadelphia, Chicago, had been filled with successful Blacks who were unaffected by the presets of the Great Depression, which was looming White businesses. Once the Great Depression hit America, White America shifted their frustrations almost entirely onto Blacks. With jobs scarce, most Whites didn't want to compete with Blacks for jobs, and refused to give them opportunities.
When the Great Depression hit America, there was virtually no group that was hit harder than African Americans. Over half of the entire African American population was unemployed in the United States within the first two years of the decade. In the American North, where Whites had once been the primary advocates of abolishing legalized slavery and for Blacks to migrate to the North, had taken a totally different tone. Once Whites were out of work, and Blacks were employed, they called for Blacks to be fired from any job as long as there was someone White who was unemployed and could take their place. Whites rallied around the message "No Jobs for Niggers Until Every White Man Has a Job" and "Niggers, back to the cotton fields—city jobs are for White folks". Blacks were seen as the "last hired and first fired"during the entire 1930s decade.
In the American South, where Whites once needed Blacks to work their plantations and build their businesses found themselves with no use for them, because the demand for imports from the United States were at an all-time low, and were further burdened by their presence. In addition, innovative mechanical devices started slowly reducing the number of Blacks required for the day-to-day plantation work like weeding and plowing. But when cotton prices dropped from $.18 per pound to less than $.06 per pound overnight, it sent the South into an instant panic, and everyone knew that the days of "quick gain" from the rich agriculture of the South were over. Some 12,000 Black sharecroppers lost their tentative footing in owning a piece of the Southern agriculture they once made prosperous for Whites. To many Whites in the area, Blacks were paid-guests, and now that the need for them was inexistent, they were expected to leave. Once they didn't, and tried to work alongside and suffer alongside Whites, Whites sought to eliminate them, literally.
By the mid-1930s it was still totally acceptable for White lynch mobs to kill Black men, women, and children for a variety of reasons. A few justifications at the time were if Black men walked on the same street as White women, because they made eye-contact with White persons, or if Whites believed a Black person was violent or a potential threat. And when Blacks were accused of heinous crimes like rape, assault, or murder, lynch mobs would overthrow the prisons and take justice into their own hands. Black presence in America was seen as a nation-wide problem that most Whites felt the need to be eliminated, and the only widely adopted option was to lock them away in jails, or kill them. And not even the President during this decade, Franklin D Roosevelt (FDR), who campaigned and appeared to be an advocate for African American civil rights (as his wife, Eleanor had done), sought to make them equals, or protect their lives. Virtually all Southern Senators blocked a bill that would outlaw lynching Blacks as a crime. After Rubin Stacy, a homeless African American farmer, knocked on a White neighbors door asking for food, deputies took him into custody. While he was in police custody, a White lynch mob overtook the jail, grabbed him from the deputies, and lynched him. There were hundreds of people who attended the lynching - it was a form of entertainment. Photos were taken of Stacy with his White murderers, along with children that showed excitement in watching his murder take place. The state did not prosecute the murderers. This angered Blacks and they urged for a law to be passed so that their lives could be protected, but FDR did nothing, fearing that Southerners would not vote for him in the 1936 election. The killings continued without consequence - there would be no laws to stop lynch mobs from killing Blacks for another 20 years.
Incarceration rates soared for Blacks during the 1930s. Chain gangs - which was forced labor for incarcerated males - were used to help rebuild public property and expand businesses. Similar practices that were used as punishment during slavery - such as solitary confinement or torture shackles - were used on incarcerated Blacks. They were thrown in jail for a variety of alleged crimes, and were almost always found guilty. Juries and judges were almost always White, and often swiftly made their guilty determinations. Prison rates for Blacks soared after in the 1930s, with many White police officers abusing their powers in arresting Blacks, just to increase the numbers of their police forces and create more jobs - a practice that would continue for decades to come.
The 12 years following the end of the Civil War (1865 - 1877) were dubbed "Reconstruction" years. The goal of President's Lincoln and Johnson was to dissemble the Confederacy and reunite the Southern States with the United States of America. Although a major issue, there wasn't a focus or plan for how to properly integrate the millions of African Americans, who were legally freed after emancipation, into society. The result was millions of African Americans, who were released from their plantations, displaced and wandering the streets. The ex-slaves had no jobs, no place to live, no funds, no belongings of their own, and most had large families. Blacks were expected to forget their years as slaves, forgive and forget their generations of abuse from their White owners and overseers, and assimilate into society. Blacks hoped if they did, then they would be welcomed as equals to Whites, and be able to eat, work alongside of, live near, and marry Whites. They were wrong, and would experience generations of rejection after being legally freed.
Most Southerners from the Confederate States held firm to their beliefs following the war, and advocated new ways to control the population of recently-freed Black slaves. There would be minimal laws produced to protect Black ex-slaves following the end of the Civil War, and instead a focus to protect White ex-slave owners. The racists who were leading the Southern states began slowly passing and implementing laws that limited freedoms for African Americans, and that limited or removed their basic liberties. Most Blacks found themselves in nearly mirrored situations as when they were slaves.
A NEW OUTLOOK
In total there were 1,030,000 casualties of the American Civil War - 3% of the American population. The war would account for nearly as many American deaths as all American deaths in other United States wars combined. Losses among African Americans were disproportionately higher than Whites, especially in the last year of the war - 20% of the all of the African Americans that enrolled in the military had lost their lives in the Civil War. There were roughly 4 million African Americans that were freed from legalized slavery in the United States after the war ended. Although Blacks had survived unthinkable conditions as slaves, including physical torment and torture, sexual abuse, the selling of their loved ones, and subhuman treatment, they were expected when the war ended, to simply forget it had even existed, and be grateful that they were freed. No government or privately-owned health clinics were established to focus on the physical conditions of Black ex-slaves, to treat various illnesses, open wounds, diseases, or disabilities they contracted while enslaved. In addition, there were no mental health evaluations, post-traumatic stress recovery treatments, competency testings, anger management or any type of therapy whatsoever. African Americans that had been slaves all of their lives, and who only knew of slave life (since all Black generations in America were descendants of slaves) were expected to transition into normal American society on their own.
There were talks early on in Lincoln's Presidency of what to do with the African Americans after they were legally freed, since it was a known issue that would obviously impact the entire country. President Lincoln, a publically-spoken racist himself, did not want Blacks to fully integrate with Whites. His solution was to relocate Blacks out of the United States. While President, Lincoln connected his name to a contract with Bernard Kock, an ambitious venturer, to use federal funds to remove some 5,000 African Americans from the United States to a small island off the cost of Haiti. Lincoln also proposed colonizing Blacks in Liberia, and in Chiriqui (part of modern-day Panama). He even appointed a commissioner of emigration, James Mitchell, whose first assignment was to assemble a delegation of 5 Black leaders to meet with Lincoln about doing so. Congress agreed with the emigration ideals, and appropriated $600,000 - which was the necessary funds to relocate them. However, when Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation, he put his plans for African Americans to the side, and turned all of his attention to winning the war and restoring the Union. He appointed his staff to put a plan in place, and when the end of the war was evident, start initiating. General William T. Sherman issued a field order granting land to Black families near the coasts of South Carolina, Georgia, and Florida. This became known as “forty acres and a mule” agreement, but his order was rescinded after President Lincoln was assassinated. Lincoln would be killed before the war was over, and any thoughts of emigration for the African Americans died with him - Congress withdrew all funds almost immediately. Blacks were left to fend for themselves.
The war devastated the American South, and destroyed most of the wealth that had existed in it. The American North and the American West – which was growing at rapid rate after the discovery of gold in California – was flourishing during the war, but the South suffered tremendously. Confederate currency, which was the solely-used currency for 4 years in the American South, was instantly null and void. It's safe to say that any country would be devastated if suddenly the money they were using was deemed invaluable overnight. Investment Confederate bonds were forfeited, banks were bankrupt, insurance companies folded, railroads closed, and development projects ceased. The income ratio in the South dropped to less than 40% per person compared to those in the North, and Southern influence in the federal government - which was previously strong and was dominate - diminished.
One of the greatest calamities that Southern Whites were confronted with immediately after the Civil War ended was the destruction of their buildings, businesses, and transportation systems. Southern roads that were once paved were now impassable or inexistent; bridges were destroyed by Union soldiers; steamboats were destroyed, with the exception of a few remaining that were immobile; levees were broken and channels were blocked – which enabled important river traffic for import and export; many animals used for transportation (e.g. horses, oxen, mules) had been confiscated by the Union army. So after Southern Whites returned home, defeated, re-adjusting to the country they broke free from for over 4 years (The United States), they didn't really have homes or communities to come back to, only the shells and foundations of what the African American slaves had created for them previously, that were now abandoned.
Those who conspired and succeeded in overthrowing the United States – establishing the Confederate States of America – believed they would be faced with treason charges after the Confederacy was defeated. Many of them, like Jefferson Davis who committed the ultimate treason by claiming Presidency for 4 years over the Southern states, as well as his cabinet, assumed death was imminent. Prior to the war ending, Johnson had declared that treason "must be made infamous" and that the traitors in the Confederacy must be impoverished after he was sworn in as President, following Lincoln’s untimely death. After the war ended, 14,000 Confederates petitioned President Andrew Johnson for their pardon. Johnson changed his mind from his initial beliefs, and shocked the nation when he complied with their requests. There would be no death sentences for anyone who committed treason before or during the war, nor were there any long-term prison sentences for the conspirators. There wouldn’t even be a trial for treason against the leaders of the Confederate military, government, leadership, or President Jefferson Davis himself. Congress passed the Amnesty Act, which restricted the right to vote for 500 out of the 14,000 Confederates, to punish some instead. President Johnson also restricted some of the ex-Confederates from taking government positions in office for a few years following the end of the war, although this was only a temporary punishment, as most went on to have flourishing careers later in United States political office.
To further the blow, on Christmas Day 1968, during the last few months of his Presidency, Johnson issued an unconditional pardon to all Confederate participants. No Confederates who committed crimes before or during the war saw consequence for starting the bloodiest war the United States has ever seen. The 3 White Southerners who were charged with conspiring to kill President Lincoln, also received a pardon. President Johnson, like Lincoln, wanted the Southern Whites to get back to their everyday lives, back to work, and continue thriving the economy of the country - which had taken a major financial setback because of the war. Johnson believed that “mercy must be largely extended”, and decided not to punish any of the Confederates for their crimes.
Andrew Johnson had a conservative view of what "reconstruction" would look like following the abolishment of African American slavery, and how Blacks would be integrated into White-dominant society. He shared Southern views that Blacks were inferior to Whites, should be treated as subhuman, and were never citizens of the country. Johnson made it clear he did not want to include Blacks in government, and set forth a series of laws that would virtually strip them of their (newly-acclaimed) legal freedom. "Black Codes" were implemented with the intent of restricting African Americans' freedom, and compelling them to work in a labor economy based on low wages and debt. The Black Codes were part of a larger agenda of racist Whites trying to suppress the freedom of emancipated African American slaves. Blacks were the root cause of the Civil War, and many Southerners sought to make them pay for it financially, and rebuild the Southern plantations they abandoned. The Black Codes would make African Americans dependent and subordinate on Whites for over a century.
Fear of African Americans was evident in the codes. Most Whites believed that Blacks would congregate and violently revenge their time as slaves, and kill their previous masters and their families. Whites were aware, and scared that the same events that happened in Haiti - where African slaves revolted against their French masters, killing their slave owners and any remaining Whites in sight - would happen in the United States following their emancipation. Haiti would become the only founded country as a result from a slave uprising, and ruled by former captives. Various States had their own unique racist codes, but some common ones included: Blacks could not assemble without the presence of a White person, Black ex-slaves - often referred to as "freedmen" - were not to be taught how to read or write, if you had a drop of Black blood you were considered Black and subject to segregation (often referred to as the "one drop rule"). Violators of these laws were whipped (lashed) and branded as punishment - similar to the punished for crimes years prior, during slavery, or thrown in jail. Louisiana, Mississippi, and South Carolina - known as some of the most racist, slavery-advocating states of America during that time - imposed some of the worst codes.
In Louisiana, Blacks who weren't in the military weren't allowed to carry firearms, without written permission from a White employer, and had to be approved by the Chief of Patrol. Blacks were not allowed to preach, exhort, or declaim to a congregation of other Black people, without special written permission from the Chief of Police. Every Black person in public was required to be in the regular service of a White person, or former owner, who was held responsible for the conduct of his/her actions. Mississippi made it a crime for Blacks to be unemployed, for Blacks to congregate together during the day or night, and to be in the presence of friendly or romantic association with any White person. Punishment was a hefty fine and jail time. Most Blacks couldn't pay, and were forced to work labor jobs to repay the debts. Whites in Mississippi weren't allowed to sell land or ammunition to Blacks - a crime also punishable by a fine and lengthy prison sentences. South Carolina outrightly expressed their views of Blacks integrating in their society by declaring in their Codes that "No person of color shall migrate into and reside in this State, unless, within twenty days after his arrival within the same, he shall enter into a bond with two freeholders as sureties", and that "Servants shall not be absent from the premises without the permission of the master". South Carolina made it illegal for Blacks to become mechanics or artisans, and made it nearly impossible for them to own a shop because he/she had to obtain a license from a judge - who were mostly White racists who denied them upon application, and charged fees at higher rates than Whites, making them impossible to pay. "Servants" in South Carolina were also forced to assist their "masters" in defending him, his family, his premises, and his property, at their command.
The central theme of the Black Codes was to force Blacks to sign long-term contracts with former White masters without any competition or resistance, and to disable Blacks from becoming independent. Black Codes in Mississippi said that Blacks who left work before ther yearly contract had expired would forfeit all of their pay. Blacks were also sentenced to long prison sentences for homelessness, which was often abused. Because African Americans who were just recently freed had previously been living on their slave master's plantations, in slave quarters, they had no place to live once they became freed. There were no government-sponsored houses created for the Blacks to live in for temporary shelter until they were able to acquire work.
Black ex-slaves were expected to want to return to their former plantations and White masters, after being shown they had no other option. To make matters harder for Blacks during this time, they were dying from starvation. Because African Americans were used to living off of their crops during their time as slaves, once they were legally freed, they lost their gardens on the slave quarters, and now had no food. Many Blacks had large families, and being unable to obtain paying jobs from Whites, or the ability to grow food for themselves, began stealing pigs. This led to states adopting "pig laws" which gave Blacks harsh punishments - 5 years prison sentences - for stealing an animal worth more than $10. Blacks were unable to obtain attorneys when they were accused of crimes because they were among the millions of recently-freed slaves with no money, valuables, or property. In addition, the Black Codes disabled African Americans from serving on a jury, or even testifying in court. With no representation, the legal-inability to fully represent themselves, and an all-White jury who resented their presence, convictions for Blacks skyrocketed. In just 3 years, Black population in jail went from the hundreds to the thousands. The United States Army had to forcefully implement the Black Codes to regulate "behavior" of the African Americans in general society.
The Freedmens Bureau - a U.S. federal government agency headed by Union Army General Oliver O. Howard - was established with the claimed objective in helping Blacks transition into a society outside of slavery. This agency was in charge of all Black legal affairs, provided food, and clothing to many nude, homeless, and starving ex-slaves. But they also most notably provided "advice" to Blacks on negotiating labor contracts with their former White masters, in a free labor market. The result was teaming with Southern White authorities in rounding up African Americans and forcing them into contract work, and offered support for some owners in maintaining control over their young slaves as "apprentices". Thought to be a support system into helping ex-enslaved African Americans transition into a better life, the Freedmen's Bureau would fool most. Blacks believed that with the Bureau, they would easily be able to find paying work, could potentially operate their own plantations (since they were successfully operating their White masters' shortly prior), and purchase land. After all, the United States had divided (again) over them, so most was believed the Bureau would help win back the hearts of the abolitionists that wanted them freed in the first place, and the hearts of the South that only saw them as subhuman. They were wrong. When the Freedmens Bureaus agenda was revealed, it showed a focus on restoring "general order" in the South, so the plantations could resume work and the South could revive it’s economy - rather than assisting Blacks to social acceptance in a majority White-racist society, or the ability to have independence from ex-masters.
The American South was financially dependent on agricultural crops grown by African American slaves, and Whites depended on Blacks to run their businesses. But now with no workers, and the financial long-term investment of them instantly lost (slaves were a costly investment), along with the devastation of their plantations because of the war, Southern Whites faced serious crisis in their reconstruction. Most farms were intact, but many had lost their animals. “King Cotton” was no longer in high demand – during the war, Europe started purchasing much of its cotton from other countries, like India, who was eager to profit off of the White rebels in the South who formed their own country. Cotton was once the Southern cash crop, with demand low, and prices for it low, Southerners looked to bank off other crops to finance their reconstruction. White plantation owners would focuses on other high-demand products like tobacco, coffee, sugar, and many others. Most Whites would repeat what worked for them historically, by having Blacks work the fields and rebuild the businesses that were destroyed during the war, but only this time, had to change the tacts in doing so.
MIGRATION & EUROPE
African Americans post-slavery would have more rights than free Blacks did before the Civil War, but it consisted of a limited set of second-class civil rights, with no voting rights and no United States citizenship. President Johnson, broke decisively with the Republicans when he revealed his true opinions on African American rights when he vetoed the Civil Rights Bill in 1865. Republicans were always advocates of Black rights, and were at the forefront of the abolitionist movement that passed laws freeing them from legalized slavery. The Democratic Party - who had proclaimed itself the "party of White men" - now fully supported Johnson. In return, Johnson would stop supporting his party and became an advocate for Democrats. Feeling betrayed, the Republicans fought to impeach Johnson, because he had persuaded his party and the public to believe that he cared about the rights of African Americans, but used his Presidential power to harm them further. Republican Congress had to establish a military district in the South to administer the region until new government was put in place, because the leader of the country - the President - could no longer be trusted and was becoming more empathetic more and more to the Southern conservative cause.
It was a pretty general feeling in the South to be resentful of the African Americans roaming around free, and demanding to paid for work, while most Whites still hadn't recovered from their losses during the Civil War. Plantation owners were devastated from loss of crops purchased, machinery and equipment bought to run their facilities, the cost of purchasing slaves, clothing and feeding them - all to be taken away almost immediately - most money was depleted or held closely. Most didn't and couldn't afford to pay Blacks for the work they felt they were supposed to be doing for free. As a result, plantations, mines, and other businesses refused to hire Blacks for pay. Some Blacks had a little money saved - from selling crops they cultivated on their personal gardens, or by tailoring, dressmaking, or other means, but even faced issues with that - their money was invaluable - Whites refused to sell to them. Blacks couldn't purchase food or supplies in most Southern areas. Whites additionally refused to allow Blacks in any establishments, including restaurants, wash houses, markets, schools or publicly-owned facilities. Many Blacks would barter with Native Americans - who were also owners of Black slaves on their reservations - and buy from them, who welcomed their money and goods.
Most Black slaves during emancipation had been born into slavery, and slavery of their ancestors had went back for generations. The only home that most Blacks knew were the quarters of their plantations, and were accustomed to their living arrangements. Blacks hated the conditions of the slave quarters, especially compared to the luxurious plantation houses that they served their masters in, but they didn't anticipate homelessness as they only alternative. Nearly all of the recently-freed Black slaves, were homeless and hungry within a week of their legalized freedom, with no where to go. As a result, most Blacks returned to the only home they knew - the plantations. They wanted to set up similar conditions that they had as slaves - living on the land, cultivating crops in their own personal gardens for sale etc - but wanted adjustments: some sort of pay, and no work on Saturdays. Those was normally the only demands. Most Blacks didn’t know what type of pay to ask for, couldn't negotiate rates, couldn't read or write, and didn’t ask for better surrounding conditions; Blacks didn't even request that their prospective "masters" would cease from lashing them, because Whites argued it was the only fair punishment and way of maintaining production. Work hours and work days practically mirrored to slavery, but Blacks were given a new title, and there was "willingness" to do the work - but most had no alternative. Southern Whites gave Blacks one option if they wanted to stay in that region: return to servicing them.
Southern Whites knew they couldn't entice legally-free African Americans to do the same jobs under the same title, because by law they couldn't. And they couldn't get Blacks to work for free - there had to be some sort of compensation, outside of money, where Whites could get free labor, just as they did during slavery. They created and developed a system, referred to as "sharecropping", where landowners broke up large plantations and rented small lots to the freed Blacks and their families. This transformed the Deep South from an elite minority of wealthy gentry slaveholders into a tenant-farming agricultural system and society. The sharecropping system allowed for freed African Americans to purchase a small lot of land on a White-owned plantation, and live on the land - located usually in the slave quarters they recently vacated - and in return, also worked the rest of the land on the plantation. But there was another catch - Blacks had to pay for the tools they were using to cultivate the crops for their land, and the rest of the plantation that they were working. The majority of the 4 million African Americans that were freed from slavery years prior didn't own the tools they were using as slaves, nor did they own animals to support their transport. As a result of their lack of funds, Blacks were forced into producing cash crops (like cotton) for their White merchants, developing a crop-lien system. But because cotton wasn't the big cash crop of the South any longer, and Blacks - like Whites - were suffering from the falling economy in the South because of it, Blacks who took part in the sharecropping system were led into decades of routine indebtedness.
African American women were largely confined to the domestic work they endured while as slaves, and there was unfortunately not much change in their types of work responsibilities for decades. They were mostly employed as housekeepers, cooks, nurses, babysitters, and personal "maids" to wealthy White women. Some were able to obtain jobs in hospitality - as housekeepers - while others were able to continue their work as laundresses or in-house dress-makers for the White elite. This had a severely negative impact on Black women mentally and emotionally who were hopeful of change from their slavery environment, but found themselves in the same households, doing the same daily work as they had when they were legally free, with no other options. African American women were also still subjected to rape and sexual abuse from White men, still without any assumption for risk or consequence; Black women were socially idealized and constructed as sexually avaricious, so to White society, they were incapable of being raped - leaving no protection for African American women against rape from whites who lustfully desired them.
Even though most Blacks went back to their old jobs, and lived in their old living quarters, under nearly the same conditions as they were as slaves, most Whites still were not happy about it. After all, the South suffered a great defeat militarily, in leadership, in government, and in pride - the country they had been living in, the Confederate States of America, which they were loyal to, was taken from them. And the rubble of the streets, domolishing of buildings, and free Black peoples walking around, was a reminder of that loss. Southern Whites wanted Blacks to go back to the work they had been doing, but at the same time, they felt that if Blacks just went back to their old jobs but with a new title, the war was for nothing. This led to widespread resentment against Blacks, and emergence of violent attacks from Whites against them, as well as the mimicry of their existence, and radical racism.
Prior to the war, the Black population (both freedmen and slaves) counted as three-fifths of the corresponding number of Whites - Blacks outnumbered Whites in most areas. Most plantations and wealthy Whites purchased several Blacks (if not dozens) as slaves, so naturally Blacks would outnumber them once slavery ended; if African Americans had the right to vote upon slavery ending, they would have outnumbered Whites. Roughly 250,000 White soldiers never came home from the Civil War, with some 30 percent of all White men aged 18 to 40 – the backbones of Southern White workforce – being the casualties, leaving countless families destitute. Even if White families remained in tact, it didn’t mean husbands were. Amputations and war-related limb loss was disturbingly high in the American Civil War, especially for Southern Whites. In some communities, at least a third of the veterans who returned lacked a limb. Mississippi had spent over a fifth of the States revenues on artificial arms and legs. To make matters worse, most were facing poverty. The per capita income for Whites declined from $125 to $80, leaving the South locked into a system of poverty for years.
The 13, 14th, and 15th Amendments established a few basic legal rights for African Americans (that eliminated them being referred to as sub-human), including citizenship in the United States - which the only home most Blacks had known since their kidnap and relocation to America. President Johnson openly encouraged Southern states to deny ratification of it, a belief which was carried on for years after his Presidency concluded. Southern White leaders, who held government power in the immediate postwar era, renounced secession and slavery, but not White supremacy. Racist and conservative Whites, many who fought for or supported the Confederacy during the Civil War, would be elected as Governerors, Senators, and other positions of politial power soon after the war ended. Within 10 yrs of losing the war, White Southern conservatives and racist Democrats who partnered with the Confederacy during the war, would regain full power and control over Congress, and the Country.
The result was over the course of 20 years, ten of the eleven former Confederate states, starting with Mississippi, passed new constitutions or amendments that effectively disenfranchised African Americans through a combination of poll taxes, literacy and comprehension tests, and residency requirements. Those who were deemed illiterate by Whites were not allowed to vote. Blacks were not allowed to read or write during slavery, and there was no government-established education for them to learn to do so, which unfairly positioned the odds of passing against them. And for the few African Americans that were self taught or shown how to read and write, White officers and officials frequently rejected their applications and classified them as illiterate, so their rights were intentionally taken. If all of the Blacks at the time would have had the power to vote, they would have outnumberered Whites. Those who could not vote were also not eligible to serve on juries, and could not run for local offices. Blacks practically disappeared from political life, and Black interests were overlooked. Any town could adopt city residential segregation laws, since each State had its own individual right to mandate such policies. The perception of African Americans as a whole, needed to be smeared, so any possibilities of their success in the United States would be lost. Entertainment would provide the perfect avenue to negatively portray African Americans in order to change public opinion of them, and would also glorify White unity and Southern racist conservative ideals.
THE NEW MEDIA SENSATION
50 years after the Civil War ended, D.W. Griffith - the "inventor of Hollywood" and pioneer of modern film-making techniques - created a landmark film, Birth of a Nation. The film would provide the type of entertainment Southern White racists needed to uplift their fallen spirits from losing the war, and to reset their racial superiority. Northern and Southern White elite sponsored the production of the film, with Griffith's father - a Confederate Colonel veteran - spearheading the financing, promoting that the film would revive White pride and dominance. Budget started at $40,000 (roughly $900,000 in 2015), but rose to over $100,000 (roughly $2,300,000 in 2015), which was revolutionary in cost for a film during that time. The film pioneered camera and production techniques that had never been seen before, such as panning camera shots, night photography, panoramic long shots, monumental use of music (which hadn't been used previously in American cinema), and more. It became a landmark film in United States history, being the first 12-reel film of America's history, and brought in millions of dollars in profits and shattered box office records. Some argue that it was the most profitable film of all time.
Birth of a Nation gives a reconstruction of events that led to the Civil War - including Africans being brought to America and being sold, the growing abolitionist movement, the defeat of the Confederacy, Blacks being freed from slavery, and then roaming the streets afterwards. Throughout the film there are degrading, false, racist depictions of Blacks. African American men were mostly played by White actors in "blackface" - which consisted of Whites smearing their faces with a layer of burnt cork on top of a layer of cocoa butter or black grease paint, to give them the appearance of black skin. The film portrayed African Americans acting in the stereotypes that Whites throughout the country had felt they were - unintelligent, reclusive, violently revengeful of Whites for slavery, aggressive towards White women, lazy, an endangerment to society and the country. Blacks were additionally portrayed as ignorant and illiterate, with their only concern being to eat chicken and watermelon, and a menace to the streets. Even Black (and bi-racial "mulatto") politicians are shown acting inappropriately - one politician took of his shoes and put his feet up on his desk, while others feasted and got drunk on alcohol. The film birthed stereotypes that African Americans were lazy, love fried chicken and watermelon, don't want to work, are sexually deviants lurking to rape White women, will corrupt White children, will ruin society, and most importantly, that they must be managed.
The film notoriously portrays the Ku Klux Klan (also known as KKK) as a heroic force, who saves a White women from being raped by a Black man, and restores order in a society that Blacks were politically running and brining down. The KKK's origination was even dramatized in the film - they were shown being inspired by observing White children pretending to be ghosts to scare Black children. The hero in the film then forms the KKK to protect White society and America. The closing scene shows the victorious KKK riding off while a group finds peace under the image of Jesus Christ. During the time of the film, the Ku Klux Klan adopted their dramatic burning of a cross, as a display of symbolism and intimidation, while keeping a clear visual representation of their Christianity. White audiences responded with hisses at Blacks throughout the film, raucous cheering during Ku Klux Klan heroism, and gave the film a standing ovation during the film's conclusion.
During the film's opening, President Woodrow Wilson, and his political cabinet - who were all Southern White sympathizers and racists - were enamored with it. Birth of a Nation was the first American motion picture ever to be screened at the White House. When speaking about the film, Wilson was quoted of saying "It is like writing history with lightning, and my only regret is that it is all so terribly true." President Wilson had been a known segregationist, and said that separation between Blacks and Whites was in the best interest of them both. The film, and its groundbreaking success, validated that Americans were united in their beliefs of White racial superiority, and that just because slavery was abolished, it didn't mean they would be accepting of any Blacks in their society. The KKK would see their rebirth during the launch of the film, after Joseph Simmons sought to create the rebirth the Ku Klux Klan as he saw it depicted on DW Griffith's film. The KKK grew even more due to White anxieties and fears over the rapid changes happening around them, and that Blacks were now new economic and social competition. The KKK promoted itself as a fraternal organization for Whites who refused to adapt to their new environments. The KKK would soon see one of the peaks of their registration during this period, and surprisingly recruits weren't high in Southern states, but in the North and Midwest States - especially Detroit and Chicago. Outside of Birth of a Nation's influence on the nation, there were other forms of entertainment that significantly contributed to negatively stereotyping and igniting hatred against African Americans.
Minstrel shows were one of the most popular forms of entertainment in the United States. They were variety shows consisting of comedy skits, music, and dancing, performed by Whites in "blackface". These shows lampooned Black people as ignorant, lazy, untrusting, dim-witted, musical, and in need of guidance from Whites to survive. The types of characters portrayed in these minstrel shows included "Jim Crow", a happy Black with ripped clothing belonging to Whites, who usually sings and dances; the "Zip Coon", which mocked free Blacks, were portrayed as arrogant, dressing in expensive clothing, and spoke in puns that shattered his attempts to appear dignified; "Uncle Tom" portrayed Blacks as gentle, good, religious, treated Whites as superiors, and were loyal to them; "Buck" was a large Black man who loves chicken, watermelon and White women, usually grinning a big smile with big red lips, and is always up to something that could potentially get him in trouble. African American females also had their own set of stereotypical characters. They included "Mammy" - the favorite amongst advertisers and fans - who was typically overweight, happy, usually wearing a scarf or rag on her hair, who doesn't take any backtalk; "Jezebel" or "Wench" portrayed Black and bi-racial women as overly sexual, and always seeking the attention of White men, temping them away from their wholesome family; "The Mulatto" who was usually fair skinned and able to pass off as White, until it was revealed she was actually Black. Minstrel shows would be the top grossing form of live entertainment during this period, until it was replaced with vaudeville - a more granular form of a minstrel show, that also included Blacks singing and dancing, and various stage acts.
Jewish advertisers served as a critical partner to Southern Whites during this time. They partnered with racists in printing prejudiced propaganda against Blacks, and also sold disturbing and degrading images of Blacks - most images were of Blacks picking cotton, eating chicken and watermelon, and bring lynched or murdered. It was a million dollar business. At one point, the United States Post Master banned the postcards, because too many of them were being shipped across the country, and delivery services couldn't keep up. Although it would be mostly Whites committing violent acts against Blacks - like lynching, castrating, beating, and burning them - it would be mostly Jewish photographers that captured the images of it happening. African Americans being lynched by mob could very well be regarded as the first paparazzi attraction - Jewish photographs arrived hours early to these "events" prior to mobs arriving, so they could get the best angle of the victim. Instead of aiding Blacks, most Jewish photographers and advertisers looked to turn a profit. They also took part in expanding the stereotypes of African Americans, by producing negative images (like a Black man dead hanging from a tree) and stereotypical images (like a Black child eating watermelon, with ignorant misspelled captions below it) on postcards, on calendars, and more. The most popular items during this time were the Jolly Nigger piggy-bank, the iron cast Black lawn jockey, and Uncle Moses standing cigarette-ash holder.
African American's did try to respond to the lies being said about them and stereotypes being formed against them, especially after characters portrayed were being confused with Blacks in real-life. Oscar Micheaux - African American author, film director and independent producer of more than 44 films - did a response film to Birth of a Nation called Within Our Gates. Most of Micheaux's films would later be "lost" by historians, and are unavailable, but are known because of various photographs and still-shots of the films, along with the legacy of the actors and actresses in them. The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) was established during this time, with a proclaimed mission to "ensure the political, educational, social, and economic equality of rights of all personals and to eliminate racial hated and racial discrimination". It wasn't an organization founded by Blacks, although many at the time believed it was - Henry Mokowitz was Jewish, William English Walling was a White Northerner, and Mary White Ovington was also White. Like the Freedmens Bureau, the NAACP would be another organization that claimed to support African Americans. It would eventually become the most prominent organization in representing Black advancement for decades. But they failed at helping Blacks gain acceptance from Whites, and growing intolerance for Blacks in society was becoming painfullly evident through the violent attacks against them. The Amendments that were passed by Congress to assist African Americans in obtaining full legal freedom from slavery and to have rights as human beings were widely rejected in the South, and with Jim Crow laws enabling states to treat ex-slaves however they wanted, Blacks followed in the steps of the Native Americans that were forced from their homes decades earlier - they left.
During the (first) Great Migration, over a million African Americans fled the Deep South in hopes for an end to their oppression. Many Blacks headed North to areas like New York, Pennsylvania, because it was home to most Republicans (who were abolitionists), and is where many African Americans gained their freedom prior to it being legally banished - Whites more were more likely to let their Black slaves purchase their freedom. With Europe also in the midst of War, Blacks took advantage of the need for industrial workers in the North, since supply lines to Europe were there. New York, Chicago, Newark, as well as other metropolitan cities in the North, saw their African American populations expand exponentially. Blacks made substantial gains in industrial employment, particularly in the steel, automobile, shipbuilding, and meatpacking industries. Between 1910 and 1920, the number of blacks employed in industry nearly doubled from 500,000 to 901,000. Blacks began to build a new place for themselves in public life, actively confronting economic, political and social challenges, and creating a new urban culture that would exert enormous influence in the decades to come. This period marked the transition for many Blacks from lifestyles as rural farmers to urban industrial workers and potential entrepreneurs.
Educated Blacks (who could read and write) were able to obtain jobs much quicker, but they encountered new discrimination from immigrants who also fled to the areas for the same opportunities and were competing with them for work. Because Blacks weren't aware of their labor value, and weren't educated in handling finances nor negotiating rates, they relied on the Organizations (such as the NAACP) to guide them in affairs. The NAACP low-balled rates, lowering the market value for their work, which caused strain between Blacks and many immigrants. Europeans and European-Americans (the Irish, French, and Italian) nonetheless worked closely and lived with Blacks, which smoothened the transition into their new homes, the North, and diminished the racial divide. But White Americans in the North, who were initially receptive to the incoming Blacks, and advocated for their release of legalized slavery, soon found them as a burden, resented their dominating the labor force and their financial gain. The residential market was challenging for Blacks upon their migration - Whites were hesitant on renting to them, as most of them were migrating with no jobs, and they usually came in large groups. After the U.S. Supreme Court declared racially based housing ordinances unconstitutional, many residential neighborhoods enacted covenants requiring property owners to agree not to sell to Blacks; these ordinances would remain legal until the Supreme Court struck them down over 30 years later. Rising rents in segregated areas, a lack in work, and the resurgence of Ku Klux Klan activity after 1915, worsened Black and White relations across the country.
African Americans saw the military as an opportunity to gain respect from Whites. Many believed it would be a way to prove their patriotism, loyalty to their adopted country, and that there were “no hard feelings” for their prior enslavement, as long as they could be treated equally going forward. The French Army - who was in midst of war - was in rough shape, losing it, with much of their cities conquered by Germans. The American military was equally having a hard time getting White troops to enlist in assisting a United States ally, especially with the looming shadows of the Civil War just a few years behind. A draft had to be mandated to force White Americans to participate in the military. But that wasn't the case with Blacks in America. Within a week of Woodrow Wilson's Declaration of War - which officially marked American entry into World War I - the United States War Department had to stop accepting Black applicants because their African American quotas had been filled.
Most Whites didn't want Blacks in the military. African Americans were deemed second-class citizens, and were thought of as incapable of performing the same tasks as Whites. They were wrong. Black troops were able to adapt to any condition that they encountered - as they had in route to and during slavery - were unaffected by the weather conditions that Whites found unbearable, and easily integrated with the French, joining the French Visionary legion. The French were not receptive of White Americans, even though they were an ally helping them in the war. French generally found White Americans as proud, rude, degrading, narcissistic, aggressive towards French women, and they found the White Southern American accent painful to hear. But the French fell in love with the African Americans who were sent there. The Blacks they endured were kind, polite, and respectful; they kept to themselves (as they were used to in the slave quarters), and continued the traditions they were formed at home while in France. Blacks notably brought jazz, blues, new forms of singing and dancing, and new ways to manipulate instruments to France while they were stationed there. The French were enamored with the African Americans. Black talent witnessed by the French, combined with Blacks willingness to fight alongside the French to reconquer their country - ultimately freeing the French from German control - would earn a lasting welcome and respect in their country.
It wasn't easy for Blacks to join the military, and White military personnel was very selective in who joined. Although the unemployed were normally the first to be selected to fight in the war for the draft, White military leaders opted for Black business owners. It resulted in the collapse of many Black-owned business. In states like Georgia, what few Blacks business owners there were, had been selected for the draft before single White farmers. U.S. Postal Service workers participated by deliberately holding military registration cards so that Blacks would be arrested as "draft dodgers".
Like all other American soldiers who returned from World War 1, African American troops reveled in celebration and took pride in their victory of winning the war. Expecting to come home heroes, as they were celebrated in France, Black soldiers received a rude awakening when they returned to the United States. Just because they had some equalities while in the military, it had nothing to do with general social equality and acceptance. As Black troops returned, racial tension increased instantly, as did brutal violent gang attacks against Blacks. It continued for years. During the summer and fall of 1919, anti-Black race riots erupted by Whites in 26 cities across The United States. Mob gangs lynched Blacks men, women, and children without consequence - the number of Blacks hung to their deaths by White mobs were up 20% in just one year. At least 10 of the victims lynched were Black World War I veterans, and some were even lynched while in uniform, making the hate for them painfully clear.
In East St. Louis, tensions between Black and White workers sparked a bloody 4-day riot that left more than 125 black residents dead. The NAACP, who was a White majority leading Blacks, responded by advocating for non-violent retaliation. They held a "Silent Protest Parade" in New York City. 8,000 marchers, men dressed in black, women and children in white, humbly walked down Fifth Avenue to the sound of muffled drums, while holding signs that read, "Mr. President, why not make America safe for Democracy?" The protest didn't prove successful in the mission to stop violent attacks against Blacks - racists continued brutal mob violent attacks against Blacks for 2 straight years. Because the NAACP promoted a cease to any possibilities of violent retaliation, Blacks were tortured and murdered with ease. An example to this was in Arkansas, when hundreds of Blacks were massacred in response to sharecroppers to organize themselves. Whites didn't want to work with Blacks, and were particularly unaccepting of Blacks not being reliant and dependent on them - especially when Whites failed to maintain success without Black labor.
The frustration over inequality, racism, and violent attacks radicalized many African Americans in combating their oppressions. Marcus Garvey tapped into this social, political, and cultural milieu. A native of Jamaica and a descendant of slaves from Africa, Garvey brought his new organization, the Universal Negro Improvement Association (UNIA), to New York and quickly attracted thousands of followers. The UNIA, predicated upon the principles of Black Nationalism and African diasporic unity, became the most dominant mass movement for Blacks in the postwar era.
NEW FOUND FREEDOMS
SAME JOB, DIFFERENT TITLE
African Americans were still adorned in France and England because of their bravery and contributions during World War I, and because of their enthrallment with Black entertainment. Jazz had swept most of their continent, and with Blacks as the inventors of the genre, along with the immense demand to watch Black live performances (the Europeans weren't as receptive to "blackface" like in the United States, and demanded real African Americans), Blacks capitalized on their interests, and fled.
Many Black dancers, performers, singers, musicians, and other artists fled to countries in Europe during their oppression in the 1930s. Black entertainers had been working primarily in racist-themed clubs, where they were allowed to perform, but not to be a guest in. The Cotton Club, a Whites-only review and the most popular club of the time, was decorated with racist imagery, depicted Blacks as savage beasts in African jungles, and as the stereotypical "Darkie" monicker living in a cotton-growing plantation in the American South. It also created strain between African American club hires: chorus girls (if Black) were only allowed to be light-skinned and over 5"6. They could mingle with patrons, but dark-skinned men were not allowed to mix with clientele. But African Americans were treated completely different in Europe. They were not segregated inside venues or from public businesses, weren't seen as second-class citizens, could speak freely with clients of any ethnicity (and it was encouraged), were paid well, were praised and admired for their skills, and were generally welcomed.
The Nicholas Brothers - 2 African American brothers from Philadelphia - shocked audiences everywhere with their innovative style of dancing, and were soon a commodity in the United States and abroad. They performed a highly acrobatic dancing technique, known as "flash dancing", had noticeable signature moves that captivated European audiences: they "leap-frogged" down a flight of stairs where each completed step was done in a split, exuberantly leapt across an orchestra's music stands and danced atop a grand piano in a call-and-response act with the pianist, and in signature, would rise from a split without using their hands. Esteemed legendary performer Fred Astaire said the Nicholas dance number was the greatest movie musical sequence he had ever seen. Their innovative dancing style was followed (or attempted) by many, but was clearly unique to them, and consequently they sold-out performances throughout Europe and in Latin America, although they would never achieve the same social status at home in the United States.
Other performers, like Josephine Baker - who fled to Europe during initial violent and murderous uprising against Blacks in the late 1910s and 20s - had returned to the United States (her home) in the late 1930s after living and performing in Europe for years. In Paris, she had become an instant success for style of singing, acting, and most notably her dancing - which was sensually erotic and often revealing, captivating nearly every person who watched her. She was the most the most successful American entertainer working in France. World-renowned writer Ernest Hemingway called her the "most sensational woman anyone ever saw". During her height, Baker was accompanied by her pet Cheetah - Chiquita, who was adorned in a diamond collar - everywhere she went, including on stage, which would often add another element of appeal in watching her perform. Baker was also groundbreaking in France, as she was the first Black to be a star of a major motion picture, Zousou (1934), which was also produced in France, and made her an international superstar. There would be an influx of artists and authors that found Baker to be their muse, including Ernest Hemingway, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Pablo Picasso, Langston Hughes and Christian Dior. But America did not welcome her. Whites united in not attending her appearances, famously boycotting Ziegfeld Follies - a series of elaborate theatrical productions on Broadway in New York City - until she was replaced with White performer Gypsy Rose Lee. The news and media, who were mostly ran by White conservatives and Jews, further shunned Baker and her prestige, making her unwelcome in the United States painfully clear. Time magazine even referred to her as a "Negro wench" and chastised her. She returned back to Europe almost immediately after receiving such treatment, heartbroken. Within 5 years of this devastating treatment, Baker still showed her loyalty to the United States when they (and France) asked her for help during World War II. Baker provided smuggled intelligence on the Axis - contributing to Nazi defeat - during the war. In France, Baker received the French military honour, the Crois de Guerre, and was made a Chevalier of the Légion d'honneur by General Charles de Gaulle for her contributions. In the United States, Baker would receive no awards or recognition for her contributions.
The comfort and success of African Americans in Europe unfortunately did not last long, because Jews started facing similar treatment in Germany to how Blacks were being treated in the United States. There was an emergence - spearheaded by Nazi marketing genius propagandist Josef Goebbels - of negative portrayals of Jews being spread like wildfire across Europe - in magazines, newspapers, film, radio, and more - with the denouncement of supporting Jewish businesses. Unlike the Jewish immigrants in the United States, who were capatizing and profiting off of the horrible lies being said about Blacks, African Americans felt empathy for Jews, and wanted to assist during the Nazi-fueled Jewish Holocaust. When Jews weren't allowed to participate in the 1936 Olympics, that were held in Nazi Germany, and were being antagonized throughout the country, Blacks sought to ally with them and help put an end to their oppression. Jesse Owens famously won the Gold Medal, beating the propaganda-stricken Nazi Germany - who said that Germans were superior to Americans and African Americans - and the victory was seen as a celebration for Blacks, Jews, and all Americans. Despite the racism in Germany at the time that was targeted towards Jews, African American olympian Jesse Owens said he was treated with more respect as a Black man while in Germany, than he had in America. Especially because the same exact posters, advertisements, books, and films, that were negatively portraying the Jews throughout Europe to evoke hatred upon them, were happening in America to the Blacks, concurrently. But no one was stopping it in America. Blacks nonetheless volunteered to die in what would become World War II, to help end the enslavement and genocide of someone else.
Blacks were still not wanted in the United States military by most Whites by the start of World War II. Blacks were still not allowed to join all military divisions, and mostly worked maintenance jobs, and on machinery. When the U.S. entered World War II, labor leader A. Philip Randolph threatened to organize a march on Washington to protest job discrimination in the military and other defense-related activities. In response, President Roosevelt had to issue an Executive Order stating that all persons, regardless of race, creed, color, or national origin, would be allowed to participate fully in the defense of the United States. Among the first acts that American and Russian soldiers did upon opening re-conquering European lands from Axis and overthrowing the Nazi government was destroy Nazi nostalgia. Millions of Nazi flags, Nazi statues, landmarks, and currency containing Nazi symbols or leaders (like Hitler), were destroyed on-site or were quickly phased out (especially Nazi-coined currency) so that the reminders of the war, Nazi domination, and the enslavement and murders of millions who fell victim to the Nazi regime, were over. After the Allies won the war, Blacks would return home to America where U.S. currency still bore slave owners (i.e. Thomas Jefferson, Andrew Jackson), markers to commemorate Civil War events, and statues of Confederate soldiers, generals, and "heroes" that were glamorized throughout the South, leaving the damning reminder of Black enslavement and oppression.