Being African-American in Alabama in the 1930s

Being African-American in Alabama in the 1930s was not easy. Although President Abraham Lincoln had made an Emancipation Proclamation freeing all African-American slaves in 1863, during the American Civil War, it wasn't until 1865 that it was enforced in many of the Southern States.

So in 1930 African-Americans had only been free citizens for sixty-five years. Racial discrimination and prejudice were still common in Alabama. Right up until the 1960s there was a policy of segregation, which meant separate facilities, such as schools, toilets and restaurants, for Whites and African-Americans. Alabama, and many other American states, had specific 'Jim Crow' laws to enforce segregation.

There was also a widespread belief amongst Whites that African-American men were sexual predators and were a threat to White women. Many White men did live with Black women but it was thought to be scandalous for a Black man to live with a White woman. A large majority of White people believed that African-Americans were second-class citizens and treated them that way.

Read an interview with a woman about growing up black and poor in Alabama in the 1930s. Click:

Find out more about African-American History:
African-American history
From slavery to freedom
Slavery

Find out about lynching:
Wikipedia
Lynching in America
About lynching

Find out about racial stereotyping by looking through racist memorabilia:
http://www.ferris.edu/jimcrow/menu.htm

Wide Reading — Race Relations:
Click on the book icon to see a few suggestions:


Activities Tasks
1
Study the images from Life magazine (August 9, 1937, pp. 50-52) and answer the questions. Click:
2
Research the history of slavery in the United States. Prepare a slide show presentation or a poster explaining what impact slavery had on the attitudes of White people in Alabama in the 1930s.
3
Imagine you are part of an archaeological team looking at the lives of slaves before the American Civil War. Research your topic and prepare a museum exhibit detailing what you found during an archaeological dig at an old cotton plantation in rural Alabama.
4
Imagine you are a social researcher interviewing someone about what it was like to grow up as an African-American child in Alabama in the 1930s. Script your conversation.
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