Life on the Homefront

Start Free Trial

How did World War II affect the African American freedom struggle?

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

World War II in many ways aided and intensified the struggle of African Americans for civil rights. During the war, the civil rights leader A. Philip Randolph, head of the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters, threatened to march if Franklin Roosevelt did not integrate defense plants. As a response, in 1941, Roosevelt passed an executive order integrating the plants, thereby enabling African Americans to have higher-paying war jobs. In addition, many African Americans fought in World War II, including the famed Tuskegee airmen, though they served in segregated units.

The irony of fighting for democracy abroad while facing segregation at home (and in the military) led civil rights leaders to launch the "Double V" campaign, which fought for victory both in the war and in civil rights causes at home. The experiences of African Americans in the war helped fuel the civil rights movement of the 1950s and 1960s, as many veterans were not afforded basic civil rights when they returned home.

See eNotes Ad-Free

Start your 48-hour free trial to get access to more than 30,000 additional guides and more than 350,000 Homework Help questions answered by our experts.

Get 48 Hours Free Access
Approved by eNotes Editorial