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African Americans in World War II: Origins of the Civil Rights Movement. HIS 265. Preparing for War. Only 5,000 blacks in army in 1940 Selective Service Act (Sept. 1940) forbade discrimination Many draft boards only accepted whites on grounds there were no separate facilities for blacks

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African Americans in World War II: Origins of the Civil Rights Movement

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African americans in world war ii origins of the civil rights movement

African Americans in World War II:Origins of the Civil Rights Movement

HIS 265


Preparing for war

Preparing for War

  • Only 5,000 blacks in army in 1940

  • Selective Service Act (Sept. 1940) forbade discrimination

    • Many draft boards only accepted whites on grounds there were no separate facilities for blacks

    • A. Philip Randolph, Walter White & T. Arnold Hill submitted plan to FDR to desegregate armed forces & institute equal training & merit-based promotion

  • Token steps in Fall 1940:

    • Benjamin O. Davis, Sr. promoted to Brig. Gen.

    • William Hastie appointed civilian aide to Secretary of War

    • ROTC units added at W. Virginia State, Hampton, Tuskegee & Prairie View


The march on washington movement

The March on Washington Movement

  • Industrial plants hired white unemployed first, so blacks took jobs vacated by whites

  • A. Philip Randolph proposed 100,000-man march for July 1, 1945

  • FDR issued Executive Order 8802 June 25, 1941

  • Fair Employment Practices Committee received & investigated complaints, but had no authority to punish


Welders

Welders


African americans in world war ii

African Americans in World War II

  • Over 3 million black men registered for draft, but 18.2% rejected on educational or medical grounds (compared to 8.5% of whites)

  • Approx. 1 million African Americans served in armed forces

  • African Americans in armed forces, Sept. 1944:

    • 701,678 in Army (86,000 in combat units)

    • 165,000 in Navy

    • 17,000 in Marine Corps

    • 5,000 in Coast Guard

    • 24,000 in Merchant Marine

    • 4,000 in Women’s Auxiliary Corps

  • 497,566 serving overseas by Feb. 1945


A segregated army

A Segregated Army

  • War Dept. issued order in Oct. 1940 that whites & blacks would attend same officer training schools & held to same standard

    • some camp commanders reluctant to recommend blacks at first

    • Only Air Corps had segregated training

  • Mostly served in segregated units under white officers, as in previous wars

  • Too often placed in support roles

    • Blacks made up 20% of engineering corps, 33% of transportation corps & 44% of quartermaster corps

    • Only 12% of soldiers served in combat units


The european theater

The European Theater

  • 22 black combat units in Europe:

    • 9 field artillery, 1 anti-aircraft, 2 tank, 2 tank destroyer, & 8 engineer combat battalions

    • 1st Army integrated some units at platoon level in 1945 due to manpower shortages

    • 761st Tank Battalion fought in Battle of Bulge

    • 92nd Division earned over 12,000 decorations & citations fighting in Italy

    • Capt. Charles L. Thomas of 614th Tank Destroyer battalion & 1st Lt. John L. Fox of 92nd Division among 7 recipients of Medal of Honor in Jan. 1997

Logo of the

92nd Division


92 nd division in action italy

92nd Division in Action, Italy

Machine Gun Crew near Massa

Entering Genoa


The tuskegee airmen

The Tuskegee Airmen

  • Served overseas in Mediterranean theater

  • Escorted bombers & flew strafing runs

  • 94th Pursuit Squadron initially part of 79th Pursuit Group with 3 white units

  • Moved to all-black 332nd Fighter Group in 1944

  • Commanded by Col. Benjamin Davis, Jr.

  • Over 80 pilots won Distinguished Flying Cross

Lena Horne and some of

the Tuskegee Airmen


The pacific theater

The Pacific Theater

  • Blacks allowed to enlist in Navy & Marine Corps for the first time in spring 1942

    • Dorie Miller became hero for shooting down 4 Japanese planes during Pearl Harbor attack

    • Howard Perry was 1st black Marine

    • 51st Defense Battalion assigned to guard duty in Marshall Islands in 1944

    • By fall 1944, 500 black seamen serving on 25 large auxiliary vessels, mostly in Pacific

    • 12,500 served in Seabees

    • 24,500 served in merchant marine - 18 ships named after African Americans

  • 24th Infantry helped take New Georgia Islands in May 1942

  • 93rd Division saw action at Bougainville, Treasury Islands, Morotai & Philippines


Howard perry dorie miller

Howard Perry & Dorie Miller


Trouble on the home front

Trouble on the Home Front

  • Most camps located in South, so racial incidents occurred inevitably

    • Some camp commanders banned black newspapers & segregated transportation and entertainment

    • War Dept. issued order in July 1944 forbidding segregation, but met with hostility

    • Serious riots at Ft. Bragg, Camp Robinson, Camp Davis, Camp Lee & Ft. Dix

  • Renewed Great Migration led to renewed racial tension in northern cities

    • 65 black colleges participated in Engineering, Science & management War Training Program - represented triumph of Booker T. Washington’s model

    • June 1943 riot in Detroit left 25 blacks and 9 whites dead


Detroit riot 1943

Detroit Riot, 1943


The double v campaign

The “Double V” Campaign

  • Pittsburg Courier launched “Double V” campaign to fight racism at home as well as abroad

  • NAACP membership increased from 50,000 to 400,000

  • James Farmer founded CORE (Congress Of Racial Equality) to fight segregation in Chicago


Wartime propaganda

Wartime Propaganda

  • Office of War Information hired Ted Poston as advisor

    • Used black journalists, artists & photographers

  • Propaganda emphasized U.S. as egalitarian melting pot in contrast to Nazi racism

    • Films featured multiethnic platoons, but rarely included African Americans

    • Frank Capra produced The Negro Soldier in 1944 – became mandatory viewing for all soldiers


Liberals rethink race

Liberals Rethink Race

  • Blatant racism of Nazis caused white liberals to reassess importance of racial discrimination

  • Ashley Montagu’s Man’s Most Dangerous Myth: The Fallacy of Race & Ruth Benedict’s The Races of Mankind were best-sellers in 1942-43

  • Gunnar Myrdal’s An American Dilemma (1944) was exhaustive study

    • Saw discrimination as glaring exception to the “American Creed”

    • Called on Americans to live up to their ideals and eliminate prejudice and segregation


Truman and desegregation

Truman and Desegregation

  • Freedom to Serve (1948) outlined steps

  • Executive Order 9981 began process

  • All jobs opened to qualified personnel regardless of race in 1949

  • Gen. Matthew Ridgeway integrated army in Korea, 1950-51


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