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International Socialist Review Issue 45,
The fire last time
Roots of the Civil Rights Movement
by AHMED SHAWKI
This is a chapter from Ahmed Shawki's new book, Socialism and Black Liberation, available from Haymarket books.
The roots of the civil rights movement of the 1950s and 1960s lie in the transformed conditions and experience of Blacks during the Second World War. Large numbers of jobs previously closed to Black workers were suddenly available. Black migration to the North reached an unprecedented scale. Until the eve of the First World War, 90 percent of Blacks lived in the South. As late as 1940, 77 percent of all Blacks resided in the former slave states—compared to 27 percent of whites.