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African Americans during World War II

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Michael Ungar

on 13 February 2015

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Transcript of African Americans during World War II

The African American Experience in World War II
Before the War
The Double V
•February of 1942- The irony and hypocrisy of fighting for freedom and democracy in Europe hit many African Americans
Tuskegee Airmen
•Early 1944- the Air Forces conducted an experiment to send black pilots to Italy
Jim Crow Laws
•resulted from "Plessy Vs. Ferguson"
•ruled separate but equal
• grandfather clauses, poll taxes, and literacy tests
•Victory against the fascist enemies abroad
•Victory against racism at home
•motivational tool
War Work
•intense demand for employees
•companies in many cities tried not to hire African Americans for as long as possible and avoid them
•if hired, they were given menial jobs
• factory workers with constant threats of dismissal and hurtful remarks from their coworkers
•skilled jobs went to white men disqualified from the military
•332nd fighter group and 477th bombardment group
•hesitant to send them because they believed that African Americans lacked the qualifications for combat duty
Alexander Jefferson
•flew eighteen successful missions, shot down on Nazi ground and captured as a POW
•Stalag Luft III., Germany
•Red Tail Captured, Red Tail Free: Memoirs of a Tuskegee Airman and POW
“It was very discouraging, upon returning to the United States, to find racism, segregation, and other social ills alive and well. I knew then I was back home.”
•President Roosevelt did not initially support the participation of African Americans in the war.
•A rmy needed more troops
& agreed to enlist blacks in segregated units only
•racism and discrimination within the military did not stop
•constantly abused, physically and verbally. Most white commanders were determined to make their lives miserable.
•Black soldiers were thought of as weak "creatures" and were restricted labor battalions and other support positions.
•The Army did not want to shy away from the social norms so, they could not accept assimilation in the Army.
• “The War department saw itself as a product of American society, therefore,
Army racial policy should reflect civilian practice and black
soldiers should receive no more than they had received in civilian life.”
Great Depression
•1929- stock market crashed
•1932- Roosevelt's New Deals
•provide all Americans with
security from birth to death
•African Americans who already lived in poverty suffered even more
•unfair and did not better lives for African Americans
Nurses
•Extreme shortage of nurses during the war
•Defense officials were still reluctant to recruit black nurses
•They considered it a violation of social norms if black nurses took care of whites
•National Association of Colored Graduate Nurses and NAACP protested
•They achieved some success

Participation in the War
•In 200 missions they never lost a bomber to enemy fire
•one of the most effective escorts
The Buffalo Soldiers - Service in Italy
Isaac Woodard
Woodard was African-American, and grew up in the South, but he was also in uniform, freshly discharged from the US Army with medals earned for his wartime service.

Isaac wanted to go to the restroom and asked the bus driver if he could stop at a rest stop. After a commotion about stopping, the bus driver stopped at a rest stop, but upon Isaac's return he called the police. The police removed Isaac from the bus, beat him repeatedly with nightsticks, and took him to jail under false claims.

Upon waking up in jail Isaac was blinded and had partial amnesia from being beaten. What made the situation so horrid was that Isaac's eyes were gouged out and the Chief Officer who beat him, Linwood Shull, was found not guilty.
successful African American pilots, made up of the 332nd fighter group and 477th bombardment group
kusgetee inamre
Tuskegee Airmen
author of: Red Tail Captured, Red Tail Free: Memoirs of a Tuskegee Airman and POW
neaexldra fjrfeoens
Alexander Jefferson
A Pearl Harbor Hero
Dorie Miller- serviceman and had no formal combat training
dragged his commanding officer to safety
manned a machine gun and shot down Japanese planes
May 27, 1942- awarded the Navy Cross for his bravery
One of the first recognized black heroes in WWII
Freeman Field Mutiny
• important step toward the integration of the U.S. military (1948)
•April 5, 1945, members of the 477th attempted to integrate an all-white officers’ club
•Military regulations said any officers’ club was open to any officer
•Freeman Field, near Seymour, Ind., had two officers’ clubs: “trainees” and “supervisors.”
•Black officers were classified as trainees, and white officers were classified as supervisors.

Question: In what ways were African Americans constrained and discriminated against during World War II?
The mutiny resulted in 162 separate arrests of black officers. Three were court-martialed on relatively minor charges. One was convicted. In 1995, the Air Force officially vindicated the actions of the African-American officers, set aside the single court-martial conviction and removed letters of reprimand from the permanent files of 15 of the officers.
Hispanic Americans
Served in all elements of the American armed forces in the war &. fought in every major American battle in the war.

Between 250,000 and 500,000 Hispanic Americans served out of a total of 12,000,000 = 2.3% to 4.7% of the U.S. Armed Forces.

The exact number is unknown as, at the time, Hispanics were not tabulated separately, but were generally included in the general white population census count. Separate statistics were kept for African Americans and Asian Americans.
Racial Tensions in Los Angeles: Young Latinos were not content to stay within their barrios, but were spilling into downtown dance halls, movie houses, pool halls and clubs. Many young Latino males distinguished themselves with distinctive hairdos ("duck tails") and apparel ("drape shapes" or "zoot suits" - wide-brimmed hats, broad-shouldered long coats, high-waisted peg-legged trousers and long dangling chains). They called themselves pachucos.

They came into contact with swarms of uniformed military men. The war had caused Los Angeles to swell with military personnel at local bases, many of them from other parts of the country with no prior experience with Latinos and Latino culture.

Because the young Latino "zoot suiters" were not in military uniform. In fact, many Mexican American men were already in military uniform, disproportionately so for their numbers.

Yet this was not what bored, restless young white servicemen saw when rubbing shoulders with strutting, brown-skinned "zoot suiters" in downtown Los Angeles. The local press had been beating a drum of fear that a "Mexican crime wave" had hit the city and "zoot suiters" and "gangsters" were one and the same.
Zoot Suit Riots
Served in all elements of the American armed forces in the war &. fought in every major American battle in the war.

Between 250,000 and 500,000 Hispanic Americans served out of a total of 12,000,000 = 2.3% to 4.7% of the U.S. Armed Forces.

The exact number is unknown as, at the time, Hispanics were not tabulated separately, but were generally included in the general white population census count. Separate statistics were kept for African Americans and Asian Americans.
Hispanic Americans
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