Week 5 DQR
The World War II wartime experience had very large and lasting effects on the experience of African Americans. These experiences helped progress towards equality for African Americans in America in many ways. These wartime experiences created situations where actions towards equality benefited America in the war. One of the effects of the wartime experience was the creation of the FEPC, which was an initiative to combat discrimination against African Americans in war industries.
The experience for African Americans fighting in World War II was tough but saw progress as the war lengthened. During the beginning of the War, African American soldiers were not allowed to serve in combat roles because they were deemed unfit for combat. President Roosevelt’s administration faced backlash from African American activists because of this, leading to him allowing all-black combat units to be created (2005). Although this did not allow them to fight side by side with their white counterparts, it allowed them to prove that they were able to fight just as well as anyone else. One of the notable combat units that derived from this was the Tuskegee Airmen. After proving they were combat-worthy, African American soldiers of the 761st Tank Battalion were able to fight side by side with white soldiers in the Battle of The Bulge (Kelley & Lewis, 2005). This was one of the biggest displays of African Americans gaining equality in the Armed Forces.
One of the steps the government took to ease discrimination in the defense industry was the implementation of the Fair Employment Practice Committee. This came after President Roosevelt feared civil unrest as a possible result of a march on Washington led by A. Phillip Randolph (Kelley & Lewis, 2005). The FEPC was tasked with investigating and addressing issues that dealt with discrimination in the defense program. Once complaints were made and investigations were done, the FEPC made sure that African American employees would not be further discriminated against.
AFRICAN-AMERICAN SOLDIERS IN WORLD WAR II HELPED PAVE WAY FOR INTEGRATION OF U.S. MILITARY. (2005). US Fed News Service, Including US State News.
Kelley, R. D. G., & Lewis, E. (Eds.). (2005). To make our world anew: Volume ii: a history of African Americans since 1880. Oxford University Press USA – OSO.
Makiyyah Moore –
Congress published The Selective Service Act in 1917 during World War I, otherwise known as “The draft,” which would require all male citizens from 21 to 31 to register to service. Despite still being recognized as second class citizens, young African American men saw this as an opportunity to enlist and show their worth and loyalty and fight for the country they believed in despite the adversity they’ve been faced with. The regiments continued to stay segregated even after leaders like W.E.B. Du Bois requested that Black and White close ranks and set aside their differences and work towards the victory of the war together. Desegregation was denied and segregation remained in place. Racial discrimination still dictated that African Americans were only allowed certain menial positions in the Navy and the Coast Guard. They were altogether prohibited from serving in the marines.
By World War II, Black men had moved on to become more than just soldiers. They filled positions and cavalry, medical, engineering, and artillery units. They became chemists, chaplains, truck drivers and more. Most African Americans were kept in Labor battalions and not on the frontline. There were four all- black regular army regiments such as the 9th and 10th Cavalry and the 24th and 25th Infantry. They were never used overseas, only held in American territory. The War Department created 92nd and 93rd Infantry, an all-black combat unit who deployed overseas. In the beginnings of WWII, African Americans generally were steered away from the combat missions and war as they were in WWI as well. Although blacks were progressing in the United States military, the military sill remained segregated. This resulted in unfair treatment and quality of life. Some Black regiments didn’t receive good shoes or clothing and were forced to sleep outside in tents instead of in the barracks.
With all the harsh treatment that blacks endured they were still loyal and devoted to serving their country and achieving victory. They began to implement more roles to African American. Such as African American nurses and airmen such as “The Tuskegee Airmen.” An African American Air Corps officers who trained at the Tuskegee Army Airfield in Alabama, which was the only training facility for basic and advanced flight training open to black pilots during World War II. By the end of the war, 926 African American pilots had been trained. Out of nearly 1,000 black airmen, 450 black fighter pilots fought and delivered critical supplies over the skies of North Africa, Sicily, and Europe. The Tuskegee airmen held a significant importance during World War II. African Americans were indeed faced with maltreatment during World War II however, they were some of the most courageous and loyal men while serving. It wasn’t util 1964 when the United States military desegregated, and African Americans began to receive better treatment.
Fogarty, R. (2022). World War II. The American Mosaic: The African American Experience. Retrieved January 31, 2022, from https://africanamerican2-abc-clio-com.ezproxy2.apus.edu/Search/Display/1514553
Tuskegee Airmen. (2022). The American Mosaic: The African American Experience. Retrieved January 31, 2022, from https://africanamerican2-abc-clio-com.ezproxy2.apus.edu/Search/Display/1462114
Pencak, W. A. (2022). African Americans in the Military. The American Mosaic: The African American Experience. Retrieved January 31, 2022, from https://africanamerican2-abc-clio-com.ezproxy2.apus.edu/Topics/Display/1500080?cid=41&sid=1500080