The forty five years following the end of the Second World War were dominated by three issues: the decolonization process; the development of the concept of Civil Rights, and the hostility between the “West” and the “East,” also known as the Cold War.
The first time that the black bloc vote played a significant role in helping to elect an American president occurred as early as 1948, when Harry Truman was elected to the office through a combination of the bloc Black vote and a minority of White votes. Truman had gained the support of Blacks by issuing an executive order that eventually desegregated the armed forces and by supporting a pro-civil rights policy for the Democratic Party over strong opposition from Southerners.
Whites in the Southern states bitterly opposed the moves to desegregate schools. In September 1957, the governor of Arkansas, Orval E. Faubus, ordered the state’s National Guard to prevent nine Black students from attending Central High School in Little Rock. On 23 September, following a number of racial clashes between Blacks and Whites in the town, Eisenhower dispatched federal troops to force White students to attend the school, frog-marching the protesting Whites at gunpoint with bayonets drawn, into the classrooms.
Where intentional segregation existed in the north, as in the city of Boston, the federal courts ordered redrawing of neighborhood school district lines, starting the practice of “bussing”— where children of different races were transported, sometimes 50 miles or more—across huge distances to force them to attend schools attended predominantly by other races. This bussing system caused a great many racial clashes and violence. Very little point was achieved by sending 100 White children into a school of 2000 Black children, or vice versa, apart from increasing racial tensions dramatically. The practice of bussing then spread all over America, soon becoming a major national political issue which was debated right up to presidential level.
The 1960 election of John F. Kennedy as Democratic Party president of America—again with overwhelming Black voter support—saw a new surge in laws designed to strike down the last of the segregationist measures in America.
The long established American laws forbidding intermarriage between Whites and Blacks were also then challenged in courts and repealed: between 1942 and 1967, 14 states repealed their anti-miscegenation laws. In the case known as Loving v. Virginia (1967), the US Supreme Court struck down laws banning interracial marriage and by 1968, all forms of de jure segregation had been declared unconstitutional.
Black riots started in the 1960s. The first serious disturbances broke out in Cambridge in 1963 and 1964, and the National Guard was called in to restore order. Then in 1965, a particularly severe Black riot erupted in Watts, a Black ghetto in Los Angeles. The Watts riots lasted six days, taking 34 lives and causing $40 million in property damage. Black riots then spread across more than 30 major American cities, turning almost every major center into a battle zone of White policemen trying to control mobs of Blacks rioting and burning and looting anything they could.
Baffled by the Black riots—in theory there should have been less reason to riot than ever before—president Johnson appointed a commission, headed by the former governor of Illinois, Otto Kerner, to investigate the causes of Black unrest. The report of the Kerner Commission, issued in 1968, warned of the increasing racial polarization in the United States and said that the “nation is moving toward two societies, one white, one black—separate and unequal.”
Increasing Black urbanization, coupled with its associated problems of an increased crime-rate, increased racial tensions and resultant integrated schools—which in every measured case led to fall in educational standards—created in the 1970s the phenomena of “White flight”. Entire neighborhoods of Whites started moving, lock stock and barrel, out of the major American cities into outlying suburbs. In this way many city centers became almost overnight Blacks-only areas: and this, combined with the dropping of any type of voter qualification, meant that by the mid-1970s, a number of these major cities had elected Black mayors and city councils for the first time.
Civil rights in review: a colossal failure
In real terms, the decades of civil rights programs have been a failure. Not only have average living standards for all but an elite of Blacks declined, but they have also dropped on every other social indicator.
In 1997, over one million Black American men were in prison, and homicide was the leading cause of death among Black men aged 15 to 34. Nationwide, blacks—although only 12 per cent of the population—account for 64 per cent of all violent-crime arrests and 71 per cent of all robbery arrests (Paved With Good Intentions: The Failure of Race Relations in Contemporary America, Jared Taylor, Carroll & Graf, 1993).
In 1988, there were fewer than ten cases of white-on-black rape—as opposed to 9,405 cases of black-on-white rape. Taylor reports that black men appear three to four times more likely to commit rape than whites, and more than sixty times more likely to rape a white than a white is likely to rape a black. This black crisis still disproportionately hurts whites. Black criminals choose white victims in more than half of their violent crime; the average black criminal seems over 12 times more likely to kill a white than vice versa. Homicide is now the leading cause of death for black men between 15 and 44; one in four black men in their twenties is either in jail, on probation, or on parole.
All this has happened despite the USA subsidizing its Black poor, publicly and privately, to the tune of more than $2.5 trillion in federal moneys alone since the 1960s. The cities run by Black Americans—Washington DC, Detroit and others—are marked by collapse, decay, exceedingly high levels of violent crime, drugs, gang wars and economic decline.
The words of the 1968 Kerner Report have remained as valid as ever: America is a society of racially separate unequals.