During World War II (1939-1945) the increased demand for farm products once again helped Kansas agriculture. In addition, wartime demands for machinery and military equipment greatly expanded industrial production, particularly in aircraft manufacturing in the Wichita area. By the end of the war the manufacture of aircraft and other transportation equipment was a major economic activity. As a result, Kansas’s economy became less dependent on agriculture. The trend toward industrialization was paralleled by an increase in urbanization. The 1954 decision by the Supreme Court of the United States in Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka, Kansas, represented a turning point in the history of the United States. Reversing the 1896 Plessy v. Ferguson ruling, which said that racially “separate but equal” public institutions were legal, the court held that segregated public schools were “inherently unequal” and denied black children equal protection under the law.
It later directed that the state provide desegregated educational facilities “with all deliberate speed.” Kansas had been only one of many states that had “separate but equal” schools that were affected by the decision. Although Southern white officials sought to obstruct implementation of the Brown decision, many blacks saw the ruling as a sign that the federal government might intervene on their behalf in other racial matters.
Agricultural output in Kansas grew during the 1960s and 1970s, but on fewer, larger, and more mechanized farms. The decline in the number of farms continued at a diminished rate even into the 1990s, despite the fact that Kansas often leads the nation in wheat production. Kansas became increasingly urbanized, and in 1970 nearly two-thirds of Kansans lived in cities and towns.
However, beginning in 1990, population in rural counties began increasing. In some cases it indicated the growth of bedroom communities, or towns in which workers live although they work in other cities; in others it was attributed to the advance of communication technologies that allowed people to work considerable distances from urban centers.
Manufacturing, led by aircraft production, continued to gain importance in the state’s economy. The production of military aircraft declined after the Korean War (1950-1953) and the Vietnam War (1959-1975), but each decline was accompanied by increasing production of small civilian aircraft. Other industries, such as the manufacture of automobiles and related products like tires and batteries, also grew.
New manufacturing plants continue to be built in Kansas. Large corporate headquarters for insurance and communication companies have also found homes in eastern Kansas. As a result, despite the loss of jobs in some historically important businesses, such as railroading, the unemployment rate has remained low in the 1990s. "Kansas" © Emmanuel BUCHOT, Encarta, Wikipedia
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