London: United States Information Service, 1957. First Edition. Square 8vo. 33,  pp. (text inside covers included in pagination), with reproductions of photographs throughout. Original wrappers, front cover with reproduction of an integrated school with children smiling and running. NOT ex-library! Suitable for exhibition and study. Very good. Item #3211
A penetrating but unintentionally disturbing British document concerning African-Americans in the 1950s, of which only one copy can be traced in the U.S. (at NYPL) and three copies in the U.K. (census below).
Published in London, this scarce pamphlet is tantamount to U.S. propaganda concerning the socio-economic "progress" of African-Americans up to the year of 1957. Naturally this includes mention of the 1954 U.S. Supreme Court decision that racial segregation in any of the nation's tax-supported schools is unconstitutional. Our problem concerns the subsequent sixty-six years: this volume forces us to confront the alarming but inescapable fact that too little real progress has been achieved in the U.S., and that with glacial speed.
The U.S. Information Service claims that the progress of African-Americans has been "phenomenal" in moving toward the fullest political, economic and social rights in the nation. But surely this was in comparison to the plight of African-Americans during the Jim Crow era, or perhaps the ninety-four years that followed the Emancipation Proclamation. How are we to measure the "progress" between 1863 and 1957 and 2020?
On p. 9 of this 1957 document: "Tell me," asked the British visitor, "do your Negroes play golf?" The question, put to a U.S. businessman, brought a stammering answer. Yes, said the businessman, he supposed that U.S. Negroes played golf, but he had never seen one with a club in his hand. [...] The incident illustrates how little white Americans generally know about their coloured fellow citizens. [...] In Seattle, Negroes are now free to play on all public golf courses (but they are still may not take part in tournaments played on the same courses."
As we read on p. 13, among U.S. skilled workers and foremen, 4% were African-Americans; similarly clerical and sales personnel (3.5%); women professional and technical workers (7%).
Concerning the Deep South, we read on p. 18 that "Mob violence is rare. The year 1952 was the first without a single reported lynching." There is a section on "The Negro in American Life," with sub-sections on "How Much Progress?" and "How is Progress Being Achieved?" Finally there is a chronology of "United States Negro Rights: A Hundred Years of Progress," "The Progress of Integration in the Schools," and a selected Bibliography.
Despite extensive searching through FirstSearch and COPAC, we have located only three copies in the UK: British Library, British Library of Political and Economic Science, Vere Harmsworth Library (Oxford).
MUST BE SEEN TO BE FULLY APPRECIATED.