United States - The system of legal racial segregation lasted until 1965. In theory, non-whites were to have the same access and services as whites. In law and in practice, whites gave themselves prvileges over non-whites in every area of public life. Black Americans were harmed the most, since they were the direct target of Jim Crow laws.
New York, New York - King Kong was shown for the first time. The movie was created in the middle of the Great Depression and Jim Crow.
King Kong was a story of a giant ape that whites found on a tropical island. The whites were there to film a movie, on location.
The whites chained the black ape and sent it to New York, to make money. The black ape was shown to whites, in a show. There the black ape became angered. King Kong broke his chains and attacked whites.
The black ape grabbed a white woman and climbed the Empire State Building. Whites sent the air force to kill the black ape and save the white woman. In the end, the white woman was saved and King Kong was dead.
Jack Johnson, the heavyweight boxing champion, was the model for the might and size of King Kong. The name Kong came from the Congo, in Africa. New York was a former slave trading port.
Washington, D. C. - President Franklin Roosevelt signed the Social Security Act into law. It excluded 65% of the Black American workforce, at the time. They were farm laborers and domestic workers (Title II Sec. 210). This was Roosevelt's Second New Deal.
The law never covered the work most Black Americans people did. Most Black American men worked on farms. Black American women worked in the homes of white women. It was normal for Black Americans to get the most menial and back-breaking jobs. The law made sure to ignore them when it came time to get public support.
At a time of Jim Crow and the Great Depression, this new law only hurt Black American labor in the nation. It gave benefits to whites who already had major benefits and support over Black Americans.
No Black American was at the signing of the Social Security Act.
The Bronx, New York - Heavyweight champion Joe Louis beat Max Schmeling, in Yankee Stadium. It was an historic fight because Schmeling was German, when the Nazi Party and Hitler were at their height.
The Nazis promoted racial dominance of whites over Black Americans, in mind and body. With the defeat, it showed the belief to be a lie. These race beliefs of the Nazis led to World War 2, the next year.
Washington, D. C. - President Franklin Roosevelt signed the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) of 1938, into law. The FLSA blocked farm workers. It did not cover domestic workers. At the time, about 65% of Black Americans were farm and domestic workers. The FLSA left them without any legal safeguards.
The FLSA was another piece to Roosevelt's New Deal. With Congress, he helped whites and excluded Black Americans. Not until 1966 were some farm workers given help under the FLSA. This was well after many Black Americans had left the farms for the factories. Domestic workers were added, in 1974.
Atlanta, Georgia - The movie, Gone With The Wind, was shown for the first time, in public. The Black American actress, Hattie McDaniel, had a major role in the movie.
It was the story of a family of Georgia slave owners. It covered the time just before and after the Slavery War (or Civil War). The movie showed the enslavers as decent and hard-working. Many were made to be sympathetic, despite their use of forced labor.
Black Americans were only in the movie as slaves, in the pre-War period. After the war, Black Americans were shown as lazy or corrupt. The house slaves were shown as submissive, docile, childish, and obedient.
The story made slavery seem the same as a regular job. There were no whips, violence, hunger, or beatings against Black Americans, shown in the movie. McDaniel's role, as a house slave, was used against Black American women to show them as obese, bossy, loyal to her abusers, and hostile to Black American men.
McDaniel was given an Oscar Award for her role. She was not allowed to attend the ceremony because of her skin color. Instead, it was given to her in private.
Hattiesburg, Mississippi - Amos Wilson was a Black American psychologist, social theorist, scholar, and author. Wilson was a professor of psychology at the City University of New York.
Wilson was a key voice on the condition of Black Americans in a white-dominated society, during the late 1980s, until his death in 1995.
Washington, D. C. - The United States Supreme Court upheld race based segregation of passengers on trains (Mitchell v. United States). Arthur Wergs Mitchell was the plaintiff. He was the first Black American Congressman, to win as a Democrat.
On the evening of April 20th, 1937, Mitchell traveled on a train in 1st class, from Chicago. As the train passed through Arkansas, the conductor moved Mitchell to the colored car. Mitchell objected. The conductor threatened him with arrest, if he didn't move.
Mitchell moved to the colored car. He filed suit. The case went to the United States Supreme Court. The decision required interstate trains to provide the same segregated service to both Black American and white customers.
Washington, D. C. - The 'Prohibition of Discrimination in the Defense Industry' was signed. It was Executive Order 8802.
President Franklin D. Roosevelt issued this order. It was meant to stop a planned march on Washington, by Black Americans. The march was planned for the following week.
A. Phillip Randolph planned the March on Washington Movement (MOWM), for July 1st, 1941. 100,000 Black Americans were to attend. After Order 8802 was issued, Randolph stopped the march.
The Order said racial bias was not allowed in the war business. It had little power. On May 27th, 1943, Executive Order 9346 replaced Order 8802 and 8823, with much more Presidential power.
Pearl Harbor, Hawaii - During the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, Doris Miller shot down several enemy fighters and helped wounded sailors. He served, as a cook, on the battleship West Virginia, which was sunk in the attack.
Miller had no training on the anti-aircraft gun he used. Many of the white sailors fled, which gave him the chance to use the gun. For his actions, he was given the Navy Cross. It was the first time it was given to a Black American.
The United States Navy tried to hide Miller's feats. The Black American newspaper, the Pittsburgh Courier learned of an unnamed Black American man who was to get a commendation. Lawrence D. Reddick found his name after many attempts to get it from the Navy. After pressure from Black Americans, the Navy finally gave Miller the credit he deserved.
After his heroics, Miller was raised to mess attendant. The Pittsburgh Courier said Miller should be taken out of the war and used to promote war bonds. Instead, the Navy sent him to the South Pacific. The ship where he served, was sunk by a Japanese submarine. Miller died in the attack, November 24, 1943.
Washington, D. C. - The United States government decided to criminally prosecute cases of slavery. This included debt peonage, and other forms of involuntary servitude. This did not include imprisonment.
White prosecutors avoided slavery cases. Too often, a case was dropped because the prosecutor declined to prosecute. Before this circular, no one was ever convicted for the enslavement of Black Americans.
Louisville, Kentucky - Cassius Marcellus Clay Jr. was born. He became Muhammad Ali, in 1966.
Ali was an American professional boxer, activist, and member of the Nation of Islam.
Many consider Ali one of the most significant and celebrated figures of the 20th century. In boxing, Ali was called 'The Greatest' of his time.
Monroe, Louisiana - Huey P. Newton was born, on Tuesday. Newton co-founded the Black Panther Party, with Bobby Seale.
Newton was the youngest child of Armelia Johnson and Walter Newton. His father, Walter Newton, was a sharecropper and Baptist lay preacher.
Tuskegee, Alabama - George Washington Carver died, on this day. Carver was a Black American agricultural scientist and inventor.
Carver promoted alternative crops to cotton. His best known work was with peanuts. Carver published 105 food recipes using peanuts.
As a botanist, Carver worked on methods to prevent soil depletion.
Columbia, South Carolina - Whites executed George Stinney, three (3) months after trial. Stinney was killed, on the word of a white deputy, H. S. Newman. At the time of his death, Stinney was only 14 years of age.
On March 23, 1944, two (2) white female bodies were found in a ditch. They were girls, killed from blows to the head. Stinney was arrested for the crime. No investigation took place.
On April 24, 1944, an all-white jury met. They tried and convicted Stinney, in ten (10) minutes. The white judge sentenced him to death, that day.
The only evidence came from Newman, that Stinney confessed. No Black Americans were allowed in the courtroom. Stinney never saw his family, until after the sentence.
On June 16, 1944, whites electrocuted Stinney to death.
Washington, D. C. - The GI Bill was the Servicemen's Readjustment Act of 1944. President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed it into law.
In 1944, the United States military was segregated. The GI Bill was written to support legal segregation when the Black American veterans returned.
This Act provided 4 major benefits. Veterans got low-cost mortgages. There were low-interest loans to start a business or farm. One (1) year of unemployment compensation went to veterans. And, there were dedicated payments of tuition and living expenses. This was for high school, college, or vocational school.
Over one (1) million Black American men returned from World War 2. Under the Act, these Black American veterans were due these benefits. But, they were blocked from most of them.
Banks denied low-cost, zero down-payment home loans to Black American veterans. From 67,000 mortgages, less than 100 in New York and northern New Jersey went to Black American veterans.
The GI Bill helped Black American veterans get an education. But, the gap, between Black Americans and whites, got worse. Whites got college degrees while Black American veterans got high school diplomas.
There were not enough segregated schools for Black American veterans. White schools denied Black American veterans admission. Whites had full access to higher education degrees and benefits. Black American veterans were denied access to these same white colleges and schools.
Almost all Black American veterans were denied the low-interest loans to start a business or a farm. This was despite what was promised in the GI Bill.