Anti-Irish sentiment found in a classified advertisement from the 19th century.

Anti-Irish sentiment found in a classified advertisement from the 19th century.


The word “discrimination” is derived from the Latin verb discrimire meaning “to separate, to distinguish, to make a distinction.” In American English usage, discrimination often refers to prejudicial treatment of  persons. This section of the Social Welfare History Project contains articles concerning issues of unfair treatment and discrimination.

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  • African Union SocietyWritten by Michael Barga. "In 1780, The African Union Society (AUS) was created in Newport, Rhode Island. While most blacks from Rhode Island were free by 1807, strong prejudice and oppression were present before and after that date. The AUS developed partly in response to these difficulties, as well as a forum for black cultural discussion. The society is considered one of the first formal organizations founded by free blacks in the United States."
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  • Congress of Racial EqualityThe Congress of Racial Equality (CORE) pioneered direct nonviolent action in the 1940s before playing a major part in the civil rights movement of the 1950s and 1960s. Founded by an interracial group of pacifists at the University of Chicago in 1942, CORE used nonviolent tactics to challenge segregation in Northern cities during the 1940s. Members staged sit-ins at Chicago area restaurants and challenged restrictive housing covenants. Early expansion beyond the University of Chicago brought students from across the Midwest into the organization, and whites made up a majority of the membership into the early 1960s.
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  • Disability and the Justification of Inequality in American HistoryNot only has disability justified the inequality of disabled people but of other groups as well. In the three great citizenship debates of the 19th century and early 20th centuries: women’s suffrage, African American freedom, and immigration restriction, disability played a substantive role.
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  • Effect of Economic Conditions Upon the Living Standards of Negroes (1928) It has been shown by a study made for the University of Georgia that the Negro in Georgia spends io per cent of his income on food. With the high cost of housing, clothing, etc., he cannot afford more. Add to the limited amount of food its inferior quality and lack of variety, and (because the woman must work) the hastily prepared and irregular meals, and you have a fruitful cause of ill health. Washerwomen often begin early in the morning and do not eat breakfast until noon. They often leave home before breakfast without feeding their children, and the latter eat what is left over from the day before. The Negro is unable to pay now for medical and dental care when necessary. He has always been unable to get credit at drug stores, and there is not enough aggregate capital to provide their own drug stores in many communities; therefore the obtaining of medicine during times of illness is always difficult. He is unable to continue to provide from his own pocket in a group way those health facilities denied him because of race, such as private hospitals and the like.
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  • Family Life Of The Negro In The Small Town-- 1926Even the briefest account of the family life of the Negro must include a consideration of the history back of the present Negro family. This history naturally divides itself into three periods: Africa, slavery, and freedom. While the African period, it must be remembered, does not claim our attention because an unbroken social tradition still affects the present formation of the Negro family -although traces of the African tradition were detected in marriage ceremonies near the opening of the present century —it is necessary to call attention to this period because of subsequent events. In Africa the Negro lived under regulated sex relations which were adapted to his social and physical environment. It was through the destruction in America of these institutionalized sex relations that slavery was able to bring about complete subordination.
  • Farmville Protests of 1963In Virginia, the state government was staunch in its refusal to allow school integration. Initiated by Senator Harry F. Byrd, the policy of Massive Resistance took hold strongly, and the state fought tooth and nail against school integration. By 1958, all of the laws Massive Resistance advocates had used to keep schools segregated were struck down as unconstitutional by Virginia courts, and to circumvent the courts, several public school systems closed entirely in 1959 rather than integrate....But in Prince Edward County and its county seat of Farmville, public schools remained closed until 1964, when the U.S. Supreme Court found that the county was violating the Equal Protection Clause by keeping schools closed.
  • Freedom: Promise of Fact: 1943In a comparatively short period of time the slaves have become free men—free men, that is, as far as a proclamation can make them so. There now remains much work to be done to see that freedom becomes a fact and not just a promise for my people. Eleanor Roosevelt, an article in the Negro Digest, 1943.
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  • Indian Policy In Its Relations To Crime And Pauperism (1892)Failure to recognize rights which belong to the Indians, and white rapacity and villany, are largely responsible both for pauperism and crime among the Indians. Here in Colorado, with the eloquent grave of the author of "Ramona," so near to the place where we meet, it can hardly be necessary to revive the incidents recited in her remarkable book entitled "The Century of Dishonor," some of them incidents of which this very State has been a witness. Nor should it be needful to condemn in a more enlightened day the barbarisms of which white men have been found capable in the past. And yet what will not avarice do in the way of stifling the sentiments of Christian humanity? The depravity of the human heart is unfathomable....Many, perhaps most, of the barbarities and wars and massacres lie at the doors of white reprobates, whose responsibility is heightened by the Christian lessons of their childhood. The most barbarous of the Indians have not been more savagely cruel than some men of our own race.
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  • Keepers of DemocracyIf you are in the South someone tells you solemnly that all the members of the Committee of Industrial Organization are Communists, or that the Negroes are all Communists. This last statement derives from the fact that, being for the most part unskilled labor, Negroes are more apt to be organized by the Committee for Industrial Organization. In another part of the country someone tells you solemnly that the schools of the country are menaced because they are all under the influence of Jewish teachers and that the Jews, forsooth, are all Communists. And so it goes, until finally you realize that people have reached a point where anything which will save them from Communism is a godsend; and if Fascism or Nazism promises more security than our own democracy we may even turn to them.
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  • New Deal and the Negro (1935)If the 2,500,000 Negroes in the North and the 9,500,000 in the South earned more they would buy more. The masses of Negroes have never purchased enough food, clothing, furniture, transportation, hospitalization, and the like. Twelve million people would greatly expand production if they were employed and paid according to their economic value rather than their social status.
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  • Principles of The Universal Negro Improvement Association (Marcus Garvey, 1922)We of the Universal Negro Improvement Association are determined to unite the 400,000,000 Negroes of the world to give expression to their own feeling; we are determined to unite the 400,000,000 Negroes of the world for the purpose of building a civilization of their own. And in that effort we desire to bring together the 15,000,000 of the United States, the 180,000,000 in Asia, the West Indies and Central and South America, and the 200,000,000 in Africa. We are looking toward political freedom on the continent of Africa, the land of our fathers.
  • Program of Work for the Assimilation Of Negro Immigrants In Northern Cities (1917)The first prerequisite in the task of organizing a local community for the absorption of a large new population of negro citizens is the establishment of a vocational bureau. In the past, when labor agencies brought the majority of negroes who came North, the problem of employment was simple. They were assured of jobs before they arrived. But now the majority of immigrants come without such inducement. They come in larger numbers and at all times of the year, when the demand for labor is strong and when it is slack. This situation is fraught with danger because in a few days idling about the city in search of a job the immigrant may come into contact with conditions and people whose influence is demoralizing and may destroy his chance of ever becoming a useful citizen.
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  • Race, Religion and Prejudice (1942)Over and over again, I have stressed the rights of every citizen:Equality before the law. Equality of education. Equality to hold a job according to his ability. Equality of participation through the ballot in the government.
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  • Suffrage in the South Part II: The One Party SystemIn a sequel to his study of the poll tax, this young southern writer further analyzes democracy in Dixie. His findings and his conclusions, carefully checked by southern researchers, are especially significant in this year of national elections.
  • Suffrage in the South: The Poll TaxIn the South, two thirds of the voting population are barred from the polls by a head tax which is a prerequisite to voting. What this "one third democracy for one sixth of the nation" means to the Democratic party, to the nation, and to the issues of the 1940 elections are revealed in the staggering facts and figures here presented in the first of two articles by a young southern writer.