Harry S. Truman Presidential Library & Museum


Compare and Contrast the Civil Rights Accomplishments of the Truman Administration and the Eisenhower Administration
Author:
Steve Johnson
Subjects:
Jackie Robinson
,
Civil Rights
,
Truman, Harry S., 1884-1972

Grade Levels:
9, 10, 11, 12

Classroom/Homework Activity to be performed:

Presidents Harry Truman and Dwight Eisenhower presided over periods of incredible domestic change in the United States that emerged from World War II. Although the Civil Rights Movement for African-Americans would achieve great legislative victories during the Lyndon Johnson administration of the 1960s, the seeds for change were planted much earlier. In this exercise, students will attempt to answer the prompt: Compare and Contrast the Civil Rights accomplishments of the Truman administration and the Eisenhower administration by examining the documents and incorporating their knowledge of the time period.

Rationale:

Students will attempt to answer the prompt: Compare and Contrast the Civil Rights accomplishments of the Truman administration and the Eisenhower administration by examining the documents and incorporating their knowledge of the time period.

Primary materials (book, article, video documentary, etc.) needed:

See instructions

Full description of activity or assignment.

Document 1: Executive order 9981: “…Now, therefore, by virtue of the authority vested in me as President of the United States, by the Constitution and the statues of the United States, and as Commander in Chief of the armed services, it is hereby ordered as follows: It is hereby declared to be the policy of the President that there shall be equality of treatment and opportunity for all persons in the armed services without regard to race, color, religion or national origin.” Harry Truman July 26, 1948

 

Document 2: Letter from President Truman to Ernie Roberts: “I am going to send you a copy of the report of my Commission on Civil Rights and then if you still have that antebellum proslavery outlook, I’ll be thoroughly disappointed in you.

The main difficulty with the South is that they are living eighty years behind the times and the sooner they come out of it the better it will be for the country and themselves. I am not asking for social equality, because no such thing exists, but I am asking for equality of opportunity for all human beings and, as long as I stay here, I am going to continue that fight. When the mob gangs can take four people out and shoot them in the back, and everybody in the country is acquainted with who did the shooting and nothing is done about it, that country is in a pretty bad fix from a law enforcement standpoint.

When a Mayor and a City Marshal can take a negro Sergeant off a bus in South Carolina, beat him up and put out one of his eyes, and nothing is done about it by the State Authorities, something is radically wrong with the system.” August 18, 2014

 

Document 3: Letter from Harry Truman to the National Urban League: “It is an obligation of government to see that the civil rights of every citizen are fully and equally protected. If the civil rights of even one citizen are abused, government has failed to discharge one of its primary responsibilities.” September 12, 1946

 

Document 4: Historian Richard Dalfiume: “Senator Burnet R. Maybank of South Carolina claimed that the wars of this country have been won by white soldiers and I defy any member to challenge this statement. Senator Allan Ellender of Louisiana proclaimed that the Negro was inherently inferior.” 1948

 

Document 5: Platform of the States Rights Democratic Party: “We stand for the segregation of the races and the racial integrity of each race…We oppose and condemn the action of the Democratic Convention in sponsoring a civil rights program.” 1948

 

Document 6: Headline from Topeka State Journal: “School Segregation Banned. Supreme Court Refutes Doctrine of Separate but Equal Education” May 18, 1954

 

Document 7: Paul Greenburg in the Los Angeles Times: Nobody ever confused Dwight Eisenhower with some kind of constitutional scholar, but eventually he did grasp what was at stake at Little Rock. To quote the televised address he made the night he called out the troops: ``At a time when we face a grave situation abroad because of the hatred that communism bears toward a system of government based on human rights, it would be difficult to exaggerate the harm that is being done to the prestige and influence, and indeed the safety, of our nation and the world. . . .`` July 9, 1990 on the events of 1957

 

Document 8: Kevin Bailey, Eisenhower Presidential Library: “In his first State of the Union speech, Ike promised to end segregation in DC, and he did. He also desegregated the federal government, finished desegregation of the military and the VA.” July 17, 2014

 

Document 9: Jackie Robinson to President Eisenhower:    http://www.archives.gov/education/lessons/jackie-robinson/images/letter-1958-01.jpg

 

 

 

 Document 10: Letter from NAACP leader Roy Wilkins to President Eisenhower
 http://www.eisenhower.archives.gov/research/online_documents/civil_rights_eisenhower_administration/1958_06_25_Wilkins_to_DDE.pdf

 

 

Full explanation of the assessment method and/or scoring guide:

In this exercise, students will attempt to answer the prompt: Compare and Contrast the Civil Rights accomplishments of the Truman administration and the Eisenhower administration by examining the documents and incorporating their knowledge of the time period.