Building a case against racial injustice, Baldwin describes how many blacks joined the U.S. military and were sent to fight in Europe during World War II, although the battles they returned to at home were sometimes worse than the war itself. In ?Down at the Cross,? Baldwin zeroes in on the discrimination against black veterans as the final blow causing many of them to hate their own country and become militant against whites. Historical accounts generally support his argument, even though Baldwin doesn?t speak to a few important points that differ from his personal perspectives on this issue. Overall, Baldwin builds a strong case for the need for social change in America to wipe out this type of racial outrage, especially in the case of black war veterans.
Baldwin contends that ?a certain hope died? when black veterans were greeted with contempt by whites when they returned from the war instead of the praise and thanks that they deserved (Baldwin 317). From his observations, this was a wound that had been festering for many years and it was something that had been eating at the heart and soul of the black population since the end of World War II. This was such a terrible insult to blacks that it added fuel to the rage that was growing all across the country, and Baldwin explains that blacks finally felt they had taken too much abuse and that things were going to change ? one way or the other. To summarize his argument, Baldwin reasons it out that if a person is willing to risk his or her life for their country, the very least they should expect is for their country to treat them with the respect they have earned and not as se...
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...ry. Baldwin?s essay is, on the whole, true to the facts and feelings in America at that particular period in time as black veterans returned home to face a new battle against racial discrimination in their homeland.
Baldwin, James. ?Down at the Cross.? 1955. James Baldwin: Collected Essays. Ed. Toni
Morrison. New York: Library of America, 1998. 63-84.
Fournier, Winston C. ?Desegregated Jobs.? The Wall Street Journal 3 April 1956: 1, 10.
Huachuca Illustrated, Vol. 2 Web Page (1996). Retrieved March 2, 2004 from
Lee, Ulysses. (1966). The Employment of Negro Troops. Washington, DC: U.S. Government Printing Office.
Murphy, Carl. (1944). This Is Our War. Atlanta Daily World, pp. 5-12.
Wynn, Mike. ?We Were There.? The Augusta Chronicle 2 September 2001: 1-14.
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