African-American's During WWii By: Kaleb, Cade, Sarah and Nolan

Before the War

We suffered profoundly in the Great Depression. Our unemployment was two times greater than white unemployment. Most of us lived in the segregated South and 1 in every 10 of us had very little education. Competition over the few jobs that remained increased violence during the 1930s.

During the War

World War II presented some new opportunities for us to participate in the war effort and thereby earn an equal place in American society and politics. From the outset, our African American press urged fighting a campaign for a "Double V": victory against fascism abroad and victory over racism at home. It was time for the United States to see the black Americans to have a say in everything. 700,000 families migrated North and West to take advantage of defense jobs, increasing racial tensions in key cities. Initially, the Marines and the Army Air Corps accepted no African Americans, the Navy accepted Blacks only as support staff and the Army allowed only segregated units. As many as 30,000 of us tried to enlist in the military, only to be turned away.The great migration continued through the years.

After the War

We were able to build the infrastructure of political action through the use of the Black press with the creation of the NAACP and the beginning of significant civil rights groups like the Congress on Racial Equality (CORE). Some of us had left farm jobs in the South decided not to return home. Instead, they moved to cities, looking for work that was similar to what we had learned in the armed forces

Black Soldiers


"The army was an experience unlike anything I've had in my life. I think of two armies, one black, one white. I saw German prisoners free to move around the camp, unlike black soldiers, who were restricted. The Germans walked right into the doggone places like any white American. We were wearin' the same uniform, but we were excluded." (Dempsey Travis).

“NOW, THEREFORE, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the Constitution and the statutes, and as a prerequisite to the successful conduct of our national defense production effort, I do hereby reaffirm the policy of the United States that there shall be no discrimination in the employment of workers in defense industries or government because of race, creed, color, or national origin, and I do hereby declare that it is the duty of employers and of labor organizations, in furtherance of said policy and of this order, to provide for the full and equitable participation of all workers in defense industries, without discrimination because of race, creed, color, or national origin” (Roosevelt).

“I don't ever remember a single day of hopelessness. I knew from the history of the labor movement, especially of the black people, that it was an undertaking of great trial. That, live or die, I had to stick with it, and we had to win” (Randolph).
"African-Americans could see the vestiges of discrimination here, that California was going to be exactly like Texas, Arkansas, Alabama, and Georgia and every place else if we didn't do something" (Tarea Hall Pittman).


The mass migration of African-Americans to northern cities combined with vast new job opportunities allowed us to participate in wartime production. We were capable of filling any position and many of us earned high paying technical positions. Wartime allowed us to prove our intelligence and capabilities.


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