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menuAmerican Social History Project  ·    Center for Media and Learning

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A Southern Activist Warns Black Chicagoans about the Daley Machine

The Democratic Party political machine notoriously ruled Chicago, distributing jobs and city services in exchange for political support. James Bevel, the director of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference's direct action campaigns, was a [...]

A Black New Yorker Describes Life in a CCC Camp

Luther C. Wandall, an African American from New York City, wrote the following account of life in a segregated Civilian Conservation Corps camp for Crisis, the magazine of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People. Wandall tells [...]

An Economist Declares Mexicans "An Undesirable Class of Residents"

Discussions of the "Mexican problem" in the early 20th century often revolved around issues of race and culture, much as they did with other immigrant groups. Samuel Bryan published this study of Mexican immigrants in a leading Progressive social [...]

A Senator Calls for a More Democratic Immigration System

In the midst of debating the Fourteenth and Fifteenth Amendments, which concerned the rights of all Americans, regardless of race, to become citizens and vote, Senator Charles Sumner often urged more liberal and democratic application of the law. In [...]

Marcus Garvey Calls for Pan-Africanism and Race Pride

Marcus Garvey, a Jamaican immigrant, was the leader of the largest black mass movement in the nation's history.  His Universal Negro Improvement Association, which had chapters throughout the U.S., the Caribbean and Africa, promoted race pride, [...]

"The Irrepressible Conflict"

In this cartoon from the weekly satirical magazine Vanity Fair, an Irish longshoreman tells a black worker seeking employment on New York's waterfront: "Well, ye may be and man and a brother, sure enough; but it's little hospitality ye'll get out of [...]

A Bracero Is Disenchanted With the United States

Despite rumors that braceros would be sent off to fight in World War II, Manuel Sandoval Espino joined the bracero program in 1943. He recalls having to go to the local politician in order to get a pass to join. Mr. Sandoval worked in Kansas as a [...]

A Bracero Protests Low Pay and Discrimination

Although he had received a rare scholarship to attend middle school, Andrés Héctor Quezada Lara dropped out to become a bracero. His work took him to many places in the United States, including South Dakota, Minnesota, Illinois, [...]

Table of Black and White Tenant Farmer Unemployment Rates, 1931-1932

The hard times of the Great Depression were even harder for African Americans, who were often the “last hired and first fired.” Particularly hard hit were black domestic workers (mostly female) and black tenant farmers (mostly male), [...]

"Colored Men in the Mines"

Though discriminated against in California, African-American miners often shared the same prejudices as white Americans towards Chinese immigrants. At other times, immigrants and African Americans found common purpose in work and leisure. This [...]

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