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How did the experiences of African Americans during World War II lay the foundation for the modern civil rights movement?

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African-Americans had acquitted themselves admirably during World War II, both on the battlefield and on the home front. In the war's aftermath, in an atmosphere of great hope and optimism, it seemed that the time was now right for the issue of civil rights to be dealt with once and for all. After all, the Americans and her Allies had just defeated Nazi Germany, with its fanatical commitment to a warped, racist ideology. It seemed only appropriate, then, that the United States should take this opportunity to move on from its own legacy of racist oppression and at long last fulfill the emancipatory promise of Reconstruction.

The war had been a testing ground for African-Americans, a chance to prove that they were the equal of anyone; that they were citizens endowed with the same inalienable rights as the majority white population. Having passed the test with flying colors, it seemed only right and proper that African-Americans should at long last be treated with the dignity and respect of...

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