During the Great Depression, African Americans were often not eligible for government work programs, and the Depression hit them hard. However, once defence plants started gearing up for wartime production, the employment picture for African Americans improved. Even before the US entered the war, there were jobs available in defense plants.
After the US entered the war, more and more plants opened to make planes, trucks, tanks, and other weapons and materials needed for the war. At first, these plants were segregated, but after A. Philip Randolph, head of the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters, objected, President Franklin D. Roosevelt integrated the defense plants. Randolph threatened to lead a march if Roosevelt did not integrate the plants, and Roosevelt did so in response. These plants provided African American men and women with relatively well-paying jobs. In addition, African Americans served in the military in segregated units and as quartermasters and in other positions.
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