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African American Life Since 1865

During the New Deal and the Second World War there were several developments that improved the social welfare of the African Americans. The president of the U.S. at this times Franklin D. Roosevelt formed an informal group that served as advisors on matters involving African Americans. This marked the start of the process of the improvement of the social welfare if the black community in America (Ferguson, 2002).

The African Americans had to deal with several social ills; segregation, discrimination and racism.  Though during the new deal there were attempts by activists to improve the welfare of African Americans, the issues or racism was almost ignored. As Ferguson (2002) notes there were little efforts to do away with racism although the president appointed some blacks into second level positions in the government department. The blacks appointed formed what was to later to be referred to as the black cabinet. This cabinet had 45 African Americans.  The most prominent members of this cabinet were Dr. Robert C. Weaver a Harvard Economics graduate. He was an economic expert and a racial relationships advisor. He was the first Black to serve in the cabined as a secretary at the Department of Housing and Urban Development. The second famous African American was Eugene K Jones a secretary at the National Urban League, Ms. Mary Jane Mcleod Bethune. Despite the inclusion of 45 African American in the senior position there was little achievement in the championing for the   social welfare of the African Americans.  The American president, Roosevelt had however achieved to improve the representation of African Americans in the government departments (Ferguson, 2002) 

At the height of the Second World War many African Americans joined the American armed forces to fight for their countries. The first African American to successfully enlist into the US Marines was Howard P. Perry in 1942 after the burrier hat hard bard African Americans from joining the armed forces in the previous 167 year was broken.  According to The History Place (1999) this market the starting point of African Americans enlisting in the armed forces and a good number was allowed to join the armed forces. By September there were 1,200 volunteers training as part of the 51st Composite Defense Battalion in the same year William Baldwin became the first African American navy recruit to be sworn in for general service and Reginald Brandon graduated as the first African American to have attended the Radio Training Scholl of the Maritime Commission (Schneller, 2005). Other notable African American who served in the military force at this time were Brig. Gen. Benjamin O. Davis, Sr who was the first African American to serve his country as an army general, Alfred D. Norris who was a Staff Sergeant to and African American P-51 Mustang fighter bomber group which was based in Italy during the war.  Virtually African Americans fought on all frontiers in Europe and pacific.  Several African American were awarded for their contribution during the war. The most notable awards were Silver Star to Private Ernest Jenkins for his courage in the liberation of Chateaudun, France, Silver Star to 1st Lt. John W. Madison a member of the 92nd Infantry Division. Madison was honored posthumously having been killed while in action in Italy, while Doris Miller Earned a Navy Cross. Actually, a good number of African Americans who served in the military force during the Second World War were awarded different award for their services (The History Place, 1999).

Certainly the African American made great achievement in the 1940s despite the numerous economic, social and racial factors. Social activism lead to some improvement in the living standard of African American as activists strived to make the right of the black communities respected. The activist advocated for equality which lead to increased opportunities available to African Americans.