African Americans and the G.I. Bill

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African American veterans have benefited less than others from the G.I. Bill.

The G.I. Bill aimed to help American World War II veterans adjust to civilian life by providing them with benefits including low-cost mortgages, low-interest loans and financial support. African Americans did not benefit from nearly as much as European Americans. Historian Ira Katznelson argues that "the law was deliberately designed to accommodate Jim Crow".[1] Of the first 67,000 mortgages insured by the G.I. Bill, fewer than 100 were taken out by non-whites.[2]

The United States Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), because of its strong affiliation to the all-white[3] American Legion and Veterans of Foreign Wars, also became a formidable foe to many blacks in search of an education, because it had the power to deny or grant the claims of black G.I.s.

Additionally, banks and mortgage agencies refused loans to blacks, making the G.I. Bill even less effective for blacks.[4] Once they returned from the war, blacks faced discrimination and poverty, which represented a barrier to harnessing the benefits of the G.I. Bill, because labor and income were immediately needed at home.

Most southern universities principles refused to admit blacks until the Civil Rights revolution. Segregation was legally mandated in that region. Colleges accepting blacks in the South initially numbered 100. Those institutions were of lower quality, with 28 of them classified as sub-baccalaureate. Only seven states offered postbaccalaureate training, while no accredited engineering or doctoral programs were available for blacks. These institutions were all smaller than white or nonsegregated universities, often facing a lack of resources.[5]

Even after admission to universities, public education was in such a poor state for blacks that many of them were not adequately prepared for college level work. Those who were prepared for college level work gained admission to predominantly white universities.[citation needed]

By 1946, only one fifth of the 100,000 blacks who had applied for educational benefits had been registered in college.[6] Furthermore, historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs) came under increased pressure as rising enrollments and strained resources forced them to turn away an estimated 20,000 veterans. HBCUs were already the poorest colleges. HBCU resources were stretched even thinner when veterans’ demands necessitated an expansion in the curriculum beyond the traditional "preach and teach" course of study.[4]

Though blacks encountered many obstacles in their pursuit of G.I. benefits, the bill greatly expanded the population of African Americans attending college and graduate school. In 1940, enrollment at Black colleges was 1.08% of total U.S. college enrollment. By 1950 it had increased to 3.6%. Additionally, the bill led to the passage of the Lanham Act of 1946, which provided for federal funding for the improvement and expansion of HBCUs. However, these gains were limited almost exclusively to Northern states, and the educational and economic gap between white and black nationally, widened under the effects of the G.I. Bill.[7] With 79 percent of the black population living in southern states, educational gains were limited to a small part of black America.[4]

See Also[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ Kotz, Nick (28 August 2005). "Review: 'When Affirmative Action Was White': Uncivil Rights". New York Times. Retrieved 2 August 2015. 
  2. ^ Katznelson, Ira (2006). When affirmative action was white : an untold history of racial inequality in twentieth-century America ([Norton pbk ed.] ed.). New York: W.W. Norton. ISBN 978-0393328516. 
  3. ^ Johnson, Howard (1947). The Negro Veteran Fights for Freedom!. National Veterans Committee, Communist Party. 
  4. ^ a b c Herbold, Hilary (Winter 1994). "Never a Level Playing Field: Blacks and the GI Bill". The Journal of Blacks in Higher Education (6): 104–108. doi:10.2307/2962479. 
  5. ^ Turner, Sarah; Bound, John (March 2003). "Closing the Gap or Widening the Divide: The Effects of the G.I. Bill and World War II on the Educational Outcomes of Black Americans". The Journal of Economic History. 63 (1): 151–2. doi:10.3386/w9044. 
  6. ^ Herbold, Hilary (Winter 1994). "Never a Level Playing Field: Blacks and the GI Bill". The Journal of Blacks in Higher Education (6): 107. doi:10.2307/2962479. 
  7. ^ Turner, Sarah; Bound, John (March 2003). "Closing the Gap or Widening the Divide: The Effects of the G.I. Bill and World War II on the Educational Outcomes of Black Americans". The Journal of Economic History. 63 (1): 170–72. doi:10.3386/w9044. 

References[edit]

  • Hilary Herbold, "Never A Level Playing Field: Blacks and the G.I. Bill," The Journal of Blacks in Higher Education, (Winter, 1994–1995), 104-108.
  • Ronald Roach, "From Combat to Campus: G.I. Bill Gave a Generation of African Americans and Opportunity to Pursue the American Dream," Black Issues in Higher Education, (August 21, 1997), 26-29.
  • Mark Boulton, "How the G.I. Bill Failed African-American Vietnam War Veterans," The Journal of Blacks in Higher Education, Number 58, Winter 2007/08, 57-61.
  • Humes, Edward (Autumn 2006). "How the G.I. Bill Shunted Blacks into Vocational Training". The Journal of Blacks in Higher Education (53): 92–104. 
  • Katznelson, Ira (2005). When Affirmative Action was White: An Untold History of Racial Inequality in Twentieth-century America. W.W. Norton. ISBN 978-0-393-05213-8. 
  • Onkst, D., "First a Negro…incidentally a veteran: Black World War II Veterans and the G.I. Bill of Rights in the Deep South, 1944-1948." Journal of Social History 31, no. 3, (1998).
  • Turner, Sarah; Bound, John (2003). "Closing the Gap or Widening the Divide: The Effects of the G.I. Bill and World War II on the Educational Outcomes of Black Americans". Journal of Economic History. 63 (1): 145–177. doi:10.1017/S0022050703001761. 
  • Atkins, James A. (1948). "Negro Educational Institutions and the Veterans' Educational Facilities Program". Journal of Negro Education. 17 (2): 141–153. JSTOR 2966055. 
  • Gibson, Truman K., Jr. (April 13, 1946). "Government Fails Negro Vets: Systematic Denial of Rights Under G.I. Bill Scored at Conference; New Technique Needed to Get Results Under Government Program". Pittsburgh Courier. p. 1. 
  • "Negro G.I.'s in South Seen Shorn of Rights". New York Times. June 2, 1947. p. 16. 
  • Thompson, Chas. H. (1946). "Editorial Comment: The Critical Situation in Negro Higher and Professional Education". Journal of Negro Education. 15 (4): 579–584. JSTOR 2965881.