Essay Sample on Complexities in the Late 19th Century and the Impact of World War II

Published: 2024-01-06
Essay Sample on Complexities in the Late 19th Century and the Impact of World War II
Type of paper:  Essay
Categories:  Racism History Discrimination
Pages: 5
Wordcount: 1319 words
11 min read

The late 19th century saw a tremendous increase in racial discrimination and tension in the United States, and more significantly in the south. The pressure, racial discrimination, and other associated violent crimes, such as rape and homicides, directly connected to the freed blacks in the United States. Notably, the whites in the southern region levied the financial challenges that they were going through to the blacks, accusing them as the primary cause. The tense atmosphere between the whites and blacks led to an increase in crimes such as killings and robbery. Lynching became a common approach to resolving these crimes and the anger between the different races. Several factors contributed to the lynching and racial prejudice in the southern regions in the United States. Therefore, the paper dissects Walter White’s perspectives on the Estill Springs lynching, the lynching in Shubuta, and the effects of white supremacy and World War II on lynching trends.

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The lynching of the blacks involved immense torture that inflicted unspeakable pain on the victims. According to White, it entailed the chaining of the victim on a tree, followed by painful treats such as pocking of the eyes, body mutilation, and then burning the person while alive (Dyja, 2008). He portrays the crowd as a group that rejoices in the suffering of the victim, as seen in their need to “have some fun” with the victim before they die (Dyja, 2008). The portrayal of the crowd is not surprising based on the racial-driven animosity and hatred that existed at the time.

Several factors played a significant role in contributing to the lynching in the southern and some of the western states in the United States. The Hanging Bridge serves as an excellent opportunity to examine some of these factors. The main reason for the lynching of the black man was the attempted rape accusation. However, several other factors led to the lynching. Firstly, the Hanging Bridge had been a symbolic feature for demonstrating white supremacy after the initial lynching of the other four blacks, including two pregnant women in 1918 (Hobbs, 2017). Therefore, the 1942 lynching was highly motivated by this first lynching to demonstrate harsh and crude treatments to all those who stood against white supremacy (Hobbs, 2017). Secondly, the 1942 Shubuta lynching was motivated by racial discrimination that had spread in Mississippi at the time following the freedom of the black slaves (Hobbs, 2017). Thirdly, the harsh economic environment caused anxiety in the people, making them develop a high degree of hatred based on racial and political grounds.

The concerns over white supremacy experienced in Mississippi and other parts of the United States in the middle of the 20th century has its root in the earlier periods of the slave trade. White supremacy placed the African-Americans in the position of the second class citizens. Therefore, they would provide cheap labor, which the society saw as an excellent way to stir the economy. White supremacy and racial discrimination ensured that the blacks were a central part of the dynamic workforce that enhanced economic recovery in Mississippi and other parts of America (Hobbs, 2017). The whites were concerned with the continuation of white supremacy as they aimed at amending the cracks introduced by seeing blacks as equals to the whites. The whites in Mississippi and the rest of America begrudgingly seemed to recognize and accept the idea that blacks had been freed. However, they still had concerns about the continuity of white supremacy as they could not accept the fact that blacks equal to whites on social and racial grounds. Thus, white supremacy would serve as a means of control over the Afro-Americans. Whites in Mississippi had more concerns over the racial lines that the blacks had an obligation to observe.

The World War II period was pivotal in the changes in racial discrimination and, more significantly, lynching. During this period, the international media focused its attention on what was happening in the United States (Dyja, 2008). The Soviet Union, for instance, started covering the evils of racial discrimination in America, criticizing it as hypocrisy (Vandiver, 2010). The forms of critics that the international media levied on America illuminated the evils in society, including lynching. The publicity and open criticism of lynching during the period by authors such as Sherwood Eddy and the actions of notable individuals like Paul Robeson empowered organizations like NAACP, thereby increasing the international significance of lynching (Vandiver, 2010). It is worth noting that the World War II period entailed an increase in crimes against humanity, thus exposing lynching and other forms of crimes. The international significance of lynching in American gave the African Americans a voice. The blacks could now participate in the movements that aimed at combating racial discrimination and lynching. The World War II period empowered humanity movements such as NAAPC that served as the most potent weapon against lynching (Vandiver, 2010). Other weapons that the blacks had were the support from international media and organizations like the Soviet Union and the Civil Rights Congress that termed lynching in the United States as genocide.

Racial discrimination in America during the period of World War II had numerous effects. One of the impacts is that it sparked different reactions and responses from African Americans. Although the North and South had been affected by prejudice differently, the blacks in both had similarities in the way they respond to racial violence. The south, which was more affected by racial discrimination and lynching, was more hostile than the north. Protests and marchings were some of the ways through which African Americans responded to racism and violence during the period. An excellent example is the protests that Philip Randolph threatened to organize to address racial discrimination when recruiting servicemen for the military (Vandiver, 2010). The move was effective as it caught the attention of President Roosevelt, who, in turn, responded by issuing Executive Order 8802 (Hobbs, 2017). Moreover, African Americans responded to racial violence through violent means. They saw violence to create new forms of social, political, and economic relationships, particularly with the whites. The violence and increase crime led to an increase in lynching, particularly in the south between 1932 and 1942 (Dyja, 2008). Additionally, organizations such as NAAPC played a pivotal role in fighting racial discrimination (Hobbs, 2017).

During the World War II period, there was increasing discrimination in the workplace. Most blacks lost their job positions in the industries and the military as the unemployed whites took their position. Additionally, lynching and racial discrimination had grown beyond reasonable measures during the period. Southerners saw this as high-level oppression. They resorted to violent means, marchings, and protest to address these forms of oppression. The economic and social injustices of the period were some of the key reasons behind the oppression claims by the southerners (Hobbs, 2017).

In conclusion, racial discrimination in the United States led to hatred and animosity between whites and blacks. The Estill Spring’s and Shubuta lynching offer an excellent opportunity to examine the factors behind their occurrence. Evidently, some of the factors include racism, economic and social injustices, and increased violent crimes, particularly in the southern parts. World War II affected the lynching in many ways. During the period, the trends increased, leading to the attention of international media. The criticism of racial discrimination in the United States by international organizations and media like the Soviet Union empowered bodies such as NAAPC (Vandiver, 2010). Therefore, the period saw tremendous changes in racism and associated effects such as job discrimination, social and economic injustices, and humanity evils like lynching.


Dyja, T. (2008). Walter White: The dilemma of black identity in America. Ivan R. Dee.

Hobbs, T. B. (2017). Hanging Bridge: Racial Violence and America’s Civil Rights Century by Jason Morgan Ward. Journal of Southern History, 83(3), 734-735.

Vandiver, M. (2010). African Americans Confront Lynching: Strategies of Resistance from the Civil War to the Civil Rights Era. The Journal of Southern History, 76(2), 472.

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