The Economy and the Black Citizen, 1900 to World War II

Gerald Jaynes

in The Oxford Handbook of African American Citizenship, 1865-Present

Published in print May 2012 | ISBN: 9780195188059
Published online September 2012 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks in Politics & International Relations

The Economy and the Black Citizen, 1900 to World War II


Three major economic events structured African Americans' economic status during the first half of the twentieth century: the economic boom of the 1914–1918 World War I era initiated the Great Migration of many African Americans into cities; the Great Depression of the 1930s pushed African Americans to the brink of destitution; and in 1940 World War II began a tremendous resurgence of the economy opening many opportunities for African Americans. Although, agriculture remained their largest sphere of employment and black farmers languished under decades of low farm prices and hard times, many blacks would take advantage of these macrosocial events. African Americans strove to gain a living against steep odds imposed by the discrimination of governments, white employers and unions, and white violence. Black agencies were mostly proactive as migration sparked the building of a new urban middle class and black institutions dedicated to raising African Americans' social position.

Keywords: black citizenship; World War II; economic status; African Americans; social position; farm prices

Article.  11083 words. 

Subjects: Politics ; US Politics ; Politics and Law

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