Race Riots Erupt in Detroit and Harlem (Great Events from History II: Human Rights Series)
Article abstract: Race riots in Detroit and Harlem vividly demonstrated the contradiction between the United States’ fight for freedom abroad and the denial of basic freedoms to African Americans at home.
Summary of Event
World War II involved the complete mobilization of the United States’ economy to produce the materials necessary to defeat the Axis powers. One consequence of this national mobilization was the migration of millions of African Americans from the rural South to the industrial centers of the North in search of high-paying factory jobs vacated as whites were inducted into the armed forces. In addition to economic betterment, blacks hoped to escape the harsh legacy of Jim Crow relations that characterized the South, a system that effectively maintained segregation of the races through outright intimidation (for example, lynchings) and negated black political power by preventing blacks from voting through legal mechanisms such as the poll tax. As they migrated northward, blacks hoped to make a better life for themselves and their children.
Unfortunately, there was little real change for blacks upon their arrival in Northern cities. Some white workers resented their arrival and participated in “hate strikes.” In addition, few cities were prepared to handle the influx of tens of thousands of blacks over such a short period of time. With domestic production oriented primarily to the war...
(The entire section is 2201 words.)
Want to Read More?
Subscribe now to read the rest of this article. Plus get complete access to 30,000+ study guides!