When students across the United States study the 1940’s, one main topic is focused on, World War II. Students learn that during the forties, Europe was war torn and America sent its troops overseas to fight in some of the most infamous battles of the twentieth century. But what is left out of history lessons is what was going on American soil when the battles across the ocean were raging on. This decade was a racially charged time in American history, even though this fact is over shadowed by the Nazis of Germany in history books. Several race riots occurred in the forties. Even though they were equal in violence to the riots of the Civil Rights Movement in the sixties, many Americans forget the riots of the forties. The biggest and bloodiest race riot of the 1940’s took place in Detroit, Michigan, in June of 1943. Several publications covered the riots, and none of the printed facts ever matched up until years later. This rioting resulted from a rumor that flowed through city streets. The rumor and the riot that it caused destroyed an entire city and many human lives. James Baldwin emphasizes the historical significance of rumors and uses this theme in his essay, “Notes of a Native Son,” to highlight the struggle toward equality.
On June 21, the city of Detroit exploded as racial tensions finally reached their boiling point. Various news organizations, such as Time and Newsweek, covered the story. At the time of the riots, none of the reported accounts of the uprising matched. The most disputed facts were the discrepancies regarding why the riot started, the number of deaths and injuries, and the exact time the riot began. Yet, most news sources reported that around six hundred people were taken into cu...
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...etimes these tensions exploded into riots, as in Detroit. Printed sources of the time recorded bits and pieces of varying data and left out other information. The public was finally beginning to become conscious of the racial inequalities in American cities. In addition, James Baldwin provided future generations a view of the injustices of the time.
Brown, Earl. "The Truth About the Detroit Riot." Harper's Magazine Nov. 1943: 488-498.
"Deep Trouble." Time 28 Jun. 1943: 19.
Momboisse, Raymond M. Riots, Revolts and Insurrections. Springfield: Charles C. Thomas,
“Notes of a Native Son.” 1955. James Baldwin: Collected Essays. Ed. Toni Morrison. New York: Library of America, 1998. 63-84.
Person's Index: Facts On File. 3 vols. New York: Facts on File, Inc., 1943.
"Riotous Race Hate." Newsweek 28 Jun. 1943: 42-43.
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