Advances in the 1940s

Political advances

African Americans began to make progress in politics in the 1940s.

In 1941, Adam Clayton Powell became the first African American member of New York City Council and was elected to the US House of Representatives in 1944.

During his time in Congress, Powell was responsible for a number of measures:

  • The desegregation of dining rooms and other facilities which African American Congressmen had been forbidden from using.
  • The admittance of African American journalists into the press gallery in Congress.
  • The admittance of African American students into the US Naval Academy.

In 1946, Harry Truman replaced Roosevelt as President and issued several Executive Orders.

Executive Order 9808 created the President’s Committee on Civil Rights, which produced the report called To Secure These Rights.

It recommended the elimination of segregation, based on race, color, creed or national origin, from American life.

Executive Order 9981 sought to stop discrimination and segregation in the armed forces.

It called for equality of opportunity for all persons in the armed forces, without regard to race, colour or national origin.

Social advances

Baseball star Jackie Robinson
Baseball star Jackie Robinson

The 1940s marked the slow, but gradual integration of cultural activities.

Baseball star Jackie Robinson. The African American baseball player Jackie Robinson left the Negro National League in 1947 to join the previously white only Brooklyn Dodgers in the National Baseball League.

By the end of the 1950s all major baseball teams in the USA had at least one African American player in their team.