“World War Two is not a pleasant experience. It’s anti everything I stand for. It was a frustrating and revealing time of my life. ” -Lowell Steward World War Two is a pivotal point of change in African American communities; it sowed the seeds of civil rights movement; it set the fire of rebellions and fighting for equality and freedom in blacks’ heart. The rise of black status during the war and post-war periods demonstrated World War to be a good War towards African American communities. It was a great improvement for African Americans’ in fighting for equal rights.
As a result of long fighting during and after the World War Two, African Americans were freer than they were before. Though the great civil war emancipated the former slaves, African Americans didn’t get the freedom they wanted. They were still suffering from severe discriminations in both North and South. Their blackness was long associated with low and inferior. Evan though President Andrew Johnson started the reconstruction, whites regarded emancipation and reconstruction as a kindness, a charity for blacks.
In other words, major society at that time still treated them unfair; southern blacks were still suffering in lynching and deep segregations. The institutionalized American identity but segregated reality caused “double consciousness” among African Americans. Just as the Timuel Black’s father said: “what the hell are you goin’ to fight in Europe for? The fight is here. You should be goin’ up to Detroit. ” As African Americans, they had both patriotic heart and struggling identities.
When the American consciousness transcended the black side, young blacks drafted and went to fight for their country. However, the harsh reality they encountered in the war was contradicted with what they expected. In the Dempsey Travis’ interview, he described experience of two armies, one black, one white. Even Nazi prisoners were free to move around the camp, while blacks were restricted in segregated areas. Everything was strictly segregated, trains, movie theaters, servicemen’s clubs even hospitals. Most northern blacks came to south for training never encounter such deep segregation.
Though both whites and blacks were fighting for the country, the clear contrary between white and blacks made African Americans realized their demand for equality. Moreover, African Americans gained unprecedented powers and status during the World War Two. Evan though few higher positions were opened for blacks, some outstanding African Americans still served as officers in the army. Moreover, blacks in the war had a chance to kill a white. Although they were German enemies, their race identity was still white.
It was the first time for most Negro soldiers that to kill a white but won’t be lynched. The long time servility was overturned by this war time experience. In addition, African Americans proved that they were not inferior to whites. For example, in Charles A. Gates interview, he described his experience of leading the black tankers group during the War. His group was actually way better than most of those composed of whites. They never lost one tank and they were so famous that even General Pattern knew them. However, this didn’t change the fact that they were treated unequally.
In the Lowell Steward interview, he talked about though his team was better than any other teams, it was still segregated, and Negro soldiers need to pay twice or three times the effort to gain the same award as white soldiers do. Another thing struck African American soldiers were the difference they felt in Europe and their homeland. They received respects from most European whites when they emancipated one town from German. However, their efforts in War were barely recognized by their white counterparts from home. They were even excluded on the V-day.
At homeland, black soldiers’ successes were barely heard. When the war ended, blacks found themselves back to the old position again. They were excluded for the GI bill. Lowell Steward mentioned at last he became a real estate broker for the reason of finding a home for himself. The harsh truth at homeland greatly contract with blacks’ experience abroad. Therefore, a strong demand for equality was born. Negro soldiers hoped the power and status they gained from the war could be extended to their homeland. At US mainland, the soaring war time industry brought great needs for workers.
However, most African Americans were excluded from these opportunities. This led to a high race tension at homeland. Therefore, during the War time, blacks at home were organized and constantly fighting for access of “American standard of living”. Unions such as NAACP and CIO expanded greatly to organize black workers to fight for their equal rights. Therefore, during the war time, tons of southern blacks went up north seeking for jobs, and black employment was higher than any of the periods before. Nevertheless, along with the end of the war was the end of war production.
Job opportunities created by war industries were diminished. African Americans were the first to be cut in jobs. The high post war unemployment among African Americans soon spurred complains and discontentment, which finally resulted in massive campaigns and strikes. Both blacks served in the war and at home gained seeds for rebellions during the war. They realized the urgent need for fighting of equal rights through their war time experience. Thus, World War Two is a good war for African Americans since it lights the way of equality and freedom.