histor essay

Submitted By sidrahnawaz
Words: 1754
Pages: 8

How far do you agree African-Americans were treated as second class citizens in the southern states between 1940 and 1946?
African Americans have been discriminated throughout History and no more so than in the south of the USA. However the African Americans hoped that the start of the war would also signal a new start for their lives living in America. Southern black men and women did what they can in the war effort hoping to gain respect amongst the people in the USA. Segregation was still very protruding in the country however throughout the war effort, barriers were broken down and some problems were starting to resolve. The African Americans began to realise their own worth as well as other people in the country realising it.
The people of the USA were all too familiar with the segregation of races, however with the slogan “separate but equal” coming from the Plessy v Ferguson case (1896) the government had almost legalised segregation and made it seem okay. Many southern black soldiers fought during World War Two seeing it as a chance to prove themselves, and attain respect from their fellow countrymen. However this was not to be, as the racial segregation was very prominent in the forces. African Americans were evidently treated differently from their white counterparts in the army, navy and air force. For example in Tuskegee, Alabama there were separate training grounds for black and white pilots. In Salina Kansas the canteens were also segregated where even German prisoners of war were served in white only areas, and black soldiers had to eat elsewhere. The fact that prisoners of war who were considered to be the enemy were seen as ‘worthy’ of sitting with white soldiers and the black soldiers who fought for the country weren’t, shows what a huge divide there was between the races. It showed the view the armed force had on the soldiers and how much the black soldiers were looked down upon. The transport of soldiers was segregated as well where black and white soldiers travelled in separate vehicles. The African American soldiers were given the dirtiest and the worst jobs such as cleaners, cooks and were prevented from fighting making them feel extremely futile in the war effort. Giving them the dirtiest jobs gave the impression that the armed forces believed they were only capable of doing small measly tasks and almost referring to them as dirt. The soldiers not being allowed to fight shows that the forces didn’t even think they were commendable enough to fight for their country. Even when the soldiers did get to fight they weren’t properly trained and poorly equipped making them the most vulnerable, they were also stationed at the most dangerous areas in the warzone and very few received promotions. Some reports showed that 1 in 70 black soldiers were promoted to rank officer compared to 1 in 7 white soldiers that were promoted to rank officer. Another example of the segregation in the armed forces was the separate treatment of soldiers by doctors and nurses. The General surgeon to the Assistant secretary of war James McGill claimed it was “inadvisable to collect and mix Caucasian and Negro blood”. Some southerners claimed that changing this policy would “Mongrelise” the nation. Due to this many of the black patients had to be treated by black doctors and most black people living in USA at that time were uneducated and illiterate so the chances of finding many black doctors were slim. All these incidents infuriated many black people also considering the fact they were treated a lot better serving abroad in European countries than at home. Many Southern black people felt there was no point of fighting the racism of the Nazis if African Americans were being treated similarly by ‘Hitlers’ back in Alabama, Georgia and Mississippi. This signalled the emergence of the “Double V” this was the campaign; victory abroad and victory within. That was the policy of beating the racial hatred from Hitler and defeating foreign