Essay Role of African Americans in WWII

Essay Role of African Americans in WWII

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Those studying the experience of African Americans in World War II consistently ask one central question: “Was World War II a turning point for African Americans?” In elaboration, does World War II symbolize a prolongation of policies of segregation and discrimination both on the home front and the war front, or does it represent the start of the Civil Rights Movement that brought racial equality? The data points to the war experience being a transition leading to the civil rights upheavals of the 1960s.
World War II presented several new opportunities for African Americans to participate in the war effort and thereby begin to earn an equal place in American society and politics. From the beginning of the war, the black media urged fighting a campaign for a “Double Victory”: a global victory against fascism at the warfront and national victory over racism at the homefront. In spite of the literary and artistic achievements of the Harlem Renaissance, the economic or political gains that the black community expected did not come to light from the African American participation in the First World War. (Perry 89) Thus the black media aimed to obtain that foothold that would bring about racial equality. They emphatically declared that there would be no lessening of racial activism, in order to present a consolidated front to America’s enemies.
On the home front, A. Philip Randolph’s threat to force a march on Washington to advocate for civil rights in wartime employment represented this new stance. When government defense contracting first started in the early 1940s, the US government acquiesced to the demands of many corporations that solely stipulated white hiring. For instance, of 100,000 aircraft workers in 1940, only 240 of the...


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... to Force a Change." "" by Perry, Earnest L., Jr. N.p., n.d. Web. 13 Mar. 2014.
Jeffries, John. Wartime America: The World War II Home Front. Chicago: Ivan R. Dee, 1996. Print. American Way.
Kelley, Roger E. "America’s World War II Home Front Heritage." Cr.nps.gov. United States, n.d. Web.
Kersten, Andrew E. "African Americans and World War II." Organization of American Historians Magazine of History. Organization of American Historians, n.d. Web.
Kimble, Lionel, Jr. "I Too Serve America: African American Women War Workers in Chicago." Lib.niu.edu. Northern Illinois University, n.d. Web.
The National WWII Museum. African Americans in World War II Fighting for a Double Victory. New Orleans: National WWII Museum, n.d. National WWII Museum. Web.
Takaki, Ronald. Double Victory: A Multicultural History of America in World War II. N.p.: Little Brown and, n.d. Print.

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