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26 A NEW FACE F O R T H E STATE OLLOWING BOTH the Civil War and World War I, which together lasted less than half a dozen years, great changes took place in North Carolina. Among them, after 1865, werefreedom for over300,000 people previously held in slavery,a new system of agriculturallabor, and a modified state constitution with sweeping changes in government. After 1918, over the objections of the General Assembly,women won the right to vote; people started to question the ideals and beliefs of the older generation; and automobiles in larger numbers appeared on newlypavedhighways, while tractors began to replacemules in the fields. Youngpeople left the farm to work in town or even in some other state, and interest in "culture"—art, dance, history, literature, and music—began to take root. Radio and motion pictures were perfected and soon, like other forms of education and entertainment available nationwide, they exerted a leveling influence on people throughout the country. North Carolinians began to lose some of the characteristicsthat made them unique. They became less provincial, grew more tolerant of "outsiders," paid more attention to news of national and world significance, andwelcomed industrial growth. With the Great Depression of the 19305 also came a realization that they shared countless problems in common with the rest ofthe nation. Racialsegregation, for the most part, wasthelaw in the South; in the North it was in many placesmerelythe custom. After World War II some of these traits were expanded. Numerous soldiers and sailors stationed overseas during the conflict brought home "war brides," whose presence contributed to a more cosmopolitan attitude in the state. The "G.I. Bill of Rights" provided educational opportunities to honorably discharged service personnel, and thousands attended colleges or received technical training for new careers. This contributed to the creation of a better educated citizenry, and more people than ever before began to take an active interest in local and state government and to participateasvolunteers in the work ofpublic service agencies. In numerous ways North Carolina began to reflect a more progressive attitude in its programs. 517 F $18 North Carolina through Four Centuries Race Relations One problem which faced the state in the late 19405 had its roots deep in the past, and a satisfactory solution still lies in the future. Attempts to solve it proved to be costly in terms of dollars, but more significantly in terms of human life and relationships. This was, of course, the all-pervasiveissue of racerelations among the diverse people of the United States. The magnitude of the problem was proportional to the majority-minority ratio among the population of each state. It was more serious in the states of the Deep South than it wasin North Carolina and less serious in some of the northern states. For a long time people had been aware of the injustices to blacks, native Americans, and other minority groups. Yetbecause the fewwho cared were in a minority themselves, they could do little. On occasion, of course, the victimsof racial prejudicespoke out or wrote about what they endured or witnessed. But in North Carolina, as elsewhere, the rights of blacks generally, and sometimes of Indians, were either ignored or violated—at the ballot box, on buses and trains, in hotels and restaurants, in schools, at theaters and stores, on the sidewalk in some towns, and even at the State Fair in Raleigh. During the depression and in World II some white North Carolinians had an opportunity to associate with blacks under new conditions. They worked together on federally sponsored projects, and as young people in uniform they occasionally served in the same military unit. (Yetnot until President Harry S Truman's executive order of 1948 were the armed forces desegregated.) In many cases eachcameto accept the other asaperson and not necessarily asamember of a particular race. Instances of genuine friendship were not unique. In the early 19505, the integration of schools, public transportation, recreation facilities, restaurants , housing, and other areaswhere segregation of the raceswasthe custom throughout much of the country became alive issue. Indeed, one of the nation's most pressing problems was the involved question of civil rights. Segregation had been practiced for a long time in America, but since 1896 it had been sanctioned bya decision of the United States Supreme Court. The case ofPlessyv. Ferguson in that year was the basisof the principlethat separate accommodations were permitted so long as they were equal. The separate-but-equal doctrine then came to be cited...


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