After the American Civil War, African-Americans gained their freedom from slavery, however they remained anything from free. African-Americans were often times viewed as second-class citizens and whites established Jim Crowe Laws to maintain segregation between whites and blacks. Due to the system of segregation, racism and a down turning economy, African-Americans struggled to find their place in the work force. Many industries overlooked them or they were put in menial jobs that had no future and minimal pay. The United States Military was one of the places were African-Americans were relegated to jobs that their white superiors deemed "fit." Such jobs included janitors and mess hall servers.
With the onset of World War II, the United States was facing many issues in the private and the public sector. Industry workers left their jobs to enlist in the army and fight overseas, leaving many positions empty. Employers filled the void by hiring minorities and women. African-Americans also became more visible in the military, and for the first time a medal of honor was awarded to an African-American soldier for his braveness during Pearl Harbor. At this time the troops were still segregated. Despite this segregation and their second-class status in the military, African-Americans fought for their country and democracy abroad alongside their white counterparts.
On the home front, African-Americans made great social strides. Being allowed to hold steady jobs for the first time gave African Americans a steady income that allowed them more pride and freedom than ever before. The role of African-Americans both on the home front and the battle lines was crucial to America's victory in the war. Without African-Americans, the U.S. would have lacked essential manpower necessary to defeat the Axis powers. Despite their necessity, African Americans still faced discrimination in the job force from their co-workers. When the war ended, many of the advances African-Americans made seemed to disappear.
White men came home and immediately returned to their jobs pushing African-Americans back out of the labor force. Furthermore, African-Americans who fought so bravely returned home to face racism and segregation. African-Americans were left questioning the system: how could they play such an integral role in the war effort but be relegated to second-class citizenship at home? Some African Americans started to push for a double victory, meaning they wanted to gain and maintain the rights at home that they earned during the War and fought for overseas.
Did the treatment of African-Americans during this time period help pave the way to the Civil Rights Movement that culminated less than two decades after World War II? The answer to the question can be found through an analysis of the following documents and answering the document based questions.
Statement: We are teacher education candidtates at the University of Texas at Austin completeing our Student as Historian assignment in order to meet course requirements for Seconday Social Studies Methods.
Created by: Kayla, Laura, and Tracy on 11/11/09