Woman and Blacks Struggle for Equality

The 20th century was a period of widespread changes that took place after the war. The Great Depression came to an end when production began during the war. In fact the forties was the period that was defined by World War II when the United States emerged as a World Super power. There were many key points responsible for the labor reforms to take shape. One such key factor was that unemployment almost disappeared when the government reclassified their jobs.

Since there was a shortage of men, even women and blacks were recruited. The Marshall Plan was introduced by the US to enable the war torn countries to reconstruct themselves and join the world economy. The scars of prejudice had taken its toll and this led to the reforms in Civil Rights which took place over the next three decades. One such labor reform was called – “The Servicemen’s Readjustment Act that entitled soldiers who were employed in the war to get a college education when they returned. College was made available to those who were capable rather than only to the privileged few.

For many centuries it was taboo for the women to be employed during the war, but there arose a necessity when there were not enough men to fill in vacant job places and hence they were forced to give employment to women. In the beginning only single women were allowed to work but by 1943 when nearly all the single women were employed, the married women were given employment. Therefore the first exodus of women leaving their homes and getting employed began and this is when for the first time women tasted their freedom and independence.

World War II had a great impact on Sports because all the able – bodied men were called to serve in the military. There was a shortage of baseball bats and balls as rubber and wood were sent to the war front. Yet against all odds professional sports was encouraged in order to boost the morale of the troops.

The country was prejudiced for a long time and did not favor blacks entering the arena of sports. This had a great impact as it inhibited integration not only in baseball but also in other sports. Then finally in 1942 President Roosevelt in his “green light letter” sanctioned that baseball should continue even though the country was at war. In 1947, Jackie Robinson became the first professional black baseball player. Hence the first crack was made in the wall of racial apartheid where baseball was concerned. Basket ball was not so much affected because the height of a player did not make him eligible for service in the military. Women’s organizations consisting of both black and white contributed to the different sports and promoted patriotism and integration. For all the above reasons the Supreme Court was justified in exempting baseball from the anti- trust action.

President Franklin D. Roosevelt created a series of programs titled the “New Deal”. The primary aim of the New Deal was to provide feasible reforms that gave relief to the people and the

economy of the United States. But on the other hand, the New Deal did not serve to change the political status of the Blacks. In fact they were too weak to raise their voices to demand

assistance or to voice their opinions. There was an increase in Federal power and a shift in the domestic policy. There were complaints of the rising costs which farmers, workers and the

Blacks could not meet. By 1943, the Supreme Court ruled out many of the New Deal Programs as unconstitutional and replaced it with other programs. But some of the programs of the New Deal were quite good and exist even today. But economists and historians still consider the program as a source of controversy and debate of whether it was a success or not.


Organization of American Historians: Baseball and World War II.

A Study of the Landis – Roosevelt Correspondence.

Author James A. Percoco

Reprinted from the OAH Magazine of History 7 (Summer of 1992)

New Deal


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