African Americans During World War II
During World War II, African Americans served in every capacity while simultaneously struggling to advance their status in society and gain more civil rights. Segregation persisted into the military, and many African Americans wishing to be drafted were looked over in favor of their White counterparts (“African-American Troops Training”). If drafted, it was much more common for them to be assigned to non-combat units and relegated to service duties. Despite the segregation, employment opportunities in supply, maintenance, and transportation helped the demographic during World War II (“Mobile Shipyards”). Admittedly, African Americans had drastically fewer chances to ascend through ranks and become skilled workers. However, some progress was made when Black leaders appealed to President Roosevelt asking for justice (“Mobile Shipyards”). As a result, on June 25, 1941, the president introduced the Fair Employment Act that made racial discrimination in all war-related fields of occupation illegal.
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Despite the disadvantaged position, Black people still had a voice and fought for their rights, little by little. In their pursuit of equality, they were assisted by a few organizations. Shortly before the United States entered the Second World War and after Roosevelt signed the Fair Employment Act, the Fair Employment Practice Committee (FEPC) was created. The intended purpose of the committee was to provide African Americans and other minorities with employment in the home front industry as well as open up more skilled jobs that were previously unavailable to those social groups. Eventually, after some protesting, the FEPC gained an independent status within the Office of the President. 12 regional offices were established across the country, and the committee extended its jurisdiction to all federal agencies, including those that were directly involved in defense.
“African-American Troops Training.” YouTube, 2009, Web.
“Mobile Shipyards.” YouTube, uploaded by MyPNC. 2009, Web.