The Great Depression and the Second World War, 1930–1945
in The Debate on Black Civil Rights in America
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There are a number of reasons why earlier scholars neglected the 1930s and early 1940s. When African American history began to command more serious attention in the mid-1960s, the generation of historians who, as young adults, had had direct personal experience of the Great Depression and the Second World War began to reach the age of retirement. Growing awareness of the acute economic problems suffered by many African American communities during the 1980s and the 1990s perhaps drew some scholars to the 1930s, a decade when economic deprivation was also one of the most pressing problems experienced by black Americans. One consequence of the new interest in the 1930s has been a growing awareness of the efforts of civil rights activists of the period, both white and black Americans, whose work had previously gone largely unrecognized by historians.

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