On the West Coast, California was less impacted by Black migration from the South. California's Black population numbered around 21,645 in 1910, making this primarily urban population less than one percent of California's entire population. Yet California's Black community had successfully come together to gain civil rights for Blacks through high-profile court cases starting in the 1860s.In the 1890s, Black activist organizations such as the Afro-American League and the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People linked California Blacks to the statewide and nationwide struggle for Black rights.
Economically, however, Black Californians were still restricted. While there was no legal segregation, Blacks in California in 1910 were still limited to the same occupations of the previous century: domestic workers and manual laborers. Successful Black professionals, entrepreneurs, and even Black millionaires certainly existed but were the exception, not the rule. The large-scale recruiting of Blacks to work in World War I war industries was the first sign that changes to the economic situation of Blacks in California might be possible.
In Los Angeles in 1918, the Black community, which expanded shortly before World War I to become larger than those of Oakland and San Francisco, elected the first Black assemblyman to the California State Congress. Black men and women had access to higher-paying skilled wartime jobs, and urban Black communities in major California cities expanded. However, with the end of World War I came the end of war industry jobs. The U.S. may have celebrated the victorious conclusion of the war, but Black communities in California were hard-hit. True changes in employment opportunities for Blacks would have to wait.
11.5 Students analyze the major political, social, economic, technological, and cultural developments of the 1920s. (11.5.2, 11.5.5)