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The Implications World War Ii Had On The Afro American

3623 words - 15 pages

The social history of the 1940s has until recently been ignored with many questions regarding the war being left unanswered. What is clear is that the war highlighted many existing problems that the African American had to face and as such there was a realization that the war provided a crisis in which civil rights could be fought for. There was an underlying ideology on behalf of the African American that if they fought for their country then their efforts should be, and more importantly would be, justly rewarded. However it soon became apparent with the outbreak of war that the government had little progress in mind. As Richard Dalfiume explained 'The hypocrisy involved in fighting with a ...view middle of the document...

Moreover one is able to see just how strongly prejudice prevailed which acted as a strong force in eroding the Negroes morale. Yet strangely enough it was this deterioration of morale that led to the African American and the Negro press taking a strong stance for his rights and thus making a formidable change in American history. Thus 'the first priority for Afro-Americans on the eve of World War II was to ensure that they could participate fully and equally in the armed forces.' The period from 1918-1940 had changed very little for the black soldier and in 1939 only 3640 black regular soldiers existed with only five black officers, three of which were chaplains. Furthermore the African American was excluded from the Marine Corps and Army Air Corps. Hopes and aspirations were high with the general feeling that their fortunes were going to change yet it soon became clear that the government were not fully pledged to change anything and it can be argued that little progress, if any at all, was made in the early stages of the war. As Neil Wynn stresses 'This fear of jeopardizing white morale and of creating a white backlash during the war was often a greater force against change than fear of black protest was for it.' This can be seen when in May 1939 the first organization was created to ensure black participation in the war effort- The Committee for the Participation of Negroes in National Defense- that campaigned for an end to discrimination in both industry and the armed forces. Its central focus was to change military policies. However few proposals supporting black involvement in the war were incorporated and in its final form the statement issued by the White House had numerous reservations. In general segregation was to be maintained. With the advent of the presidential election of 1940 African Americans had hoped that their growing political power would have influenced their stance on desegregation and equality. Indeed as The Crisis expressed 'This is a struggle for status, a struggle to take democracy off of parchment and give it life.' It is clear however that Roosevelt and the White House made a series of announcements in the last few weeks before the election in order to attract Negro votes. Furthermore little came of the promise by Roosevelt that further policy would be implemented on a non-discriminatory basis. In response to the failure of the army's racial policy the Advisory Committee on Negro Troop Policies was formed in August 1942 yet this saw little reason for any change. Thus one is beginning to grasp that if the African American chose to sit back and wait for reform their position in society would not have changed. It was for this reason that a more militant mood developed and a general realization that action was needed to be taken.It was not surprising that a few months later witnessed the outbreak of racial violence in military camps of both the north and south which seemed to represent the anger which had been...


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