How were African Americans treated during World War II?
More specifically, how were African American soldiers treated in the army? I know they were treated as second class citizens, but what was it like for those who fought for America?
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At that time, the US Army, like America itself, was still segregated. African-Americans fought in the Army, Navy and Army Air Force, and fought well on the battlefield. The Tuskegee Airmen unit became especially famous for their performance under fire, and units like the 761st Tank Battalion in the Army did just as well, but were not as well known. That particular unit was the first all-black tank unit ever sent into combat.
Most African-Americans who served, however, were assigned to support roles, such as running the supply truck convoys in Europe known as the "Red Ball Express". African-Americans made up 75% of that particular unit. They were as essential to winning the war against Hitler as any units in combat.
Many African-American veterans of that war, while very proud of their service, had a difficult time coming home to a country that felt, while they were certainly equal enough to fight and die for the nation, also felt that they weren't equal in almost every other way. It was impossible to reconcile those two views, and some say this contributed to the Civil Rights movement in the early 1950s.
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