African American Legal Status from the Harlem Renaissance through World War II

Lisa Crooms-Robinson

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

African American Legal Status from the Harlem Renaissance through World War II

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At the end of World War I, whites tried to put blacks back in their place. They found, however, that the place of African Americans had changed. The Harlem Renaissance represented the soaring aspirations—including in the area of constitutional rights—in the African American community. As the country faced the economic exigencies of the Depression, the federal government took a more active role in protecting individuals' economic rights. Minimum wage and maximum hours laws, as well as legislation establishing federal social welfare benefits, marked a shift in the balance of power between the federal government, the states, and their citizens. Soon thereafter, the Court concluded that the line it had drawn between intra- and interstate commerce could not be maintained. The Court demonstrated its willingness to consider the substantial effect of individual activity on interstate commerce in the aggregate should every individual be allowed to do what the actor in question did. This change would signal a more expansive view of interstate commerce that allowed Congress to regulate matters formerly committed to the control of the states by way of the Tenth Amendment.

Keywords: Harlem Renaissance; World War II; African American legal status; constitutional rights; economic rights; social welfare benefits

Article.  5072 words. 

Subjects: Politics ; US Politics ; Political Behaviour

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