* Debate Question: Was the World War II Era a Watershed for the Civil Rights Movement?
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Some historians argue that the World War II era was a watershed for the civil rights movement. The definition of a watershed is “an event or period marking a turning point in a course of action or state of affairs.” In this case, the topic refers to a period, the World War II era, rather than a single event. While there were some victories for the civil rights movement in this time period, once America entered the war there were far fewer. Because movements were “inhibited by the constraints imposed by a nation at war, dwindling resources for sustained protest, and the patriotic response by blacks to the dangers faced by the United States,” there were far fewer protests, and therefore victories, for the civil rights movement in this time period. (Madaras & SoRelle, p.188) Therefore, the World War II era was not a watershed for the civil rights movement. Prior to the United States entering the war, the 1940 Selective Service Training Act tried to solve discrimination in the military, allowing “all men between 18 and 36, regardless of race, were eligible to volunteer in naval and ground forces without fear of discrimination.” (African Americans in WWII). While this was a major step forward for equality, “it did not address the underlying issues present such as stereotypes and racism.” (African Americans in WWII). In addition to this, there were many aggressive movements for equality by civil rights leaders and organizations, both successful and not. Most of them, however, were prior to the United States actually entering the war. “The angry demonstrations by African Americans against racial discrimination in the defense industry and in the armed services diminished after the United States entered the war, and received decreasing attention as the war dragged on.” (Sitkoff, pg. 196). Most of the events for the civil rights movements actually happened before the United States entered the war. During the war, African American leaders and prominent figures made it clear to the public that they, and the African American community, were unified towards the goal of winning the war. “Edgar G. Brown, director of the National Negro Council, telegraphed President Roosevelt that all African Americans pledge 100 percent loyalty to the United States.” (Sitkoff, pg. 196). “Instead of militant protest, the dominant theme of African American organizations and journals during the Second World War was that patriotic duty and battlefield bravery would lead to the Negro’s advancement.” (Sitkoff, pg. 197) Even major events such as A. Philip Randolph’s March¬On¬Washington, weren’t as big of a deal as they seemed. In fact, they were only in the spotlight for a little while, in this case a couple months. (Sitkoff, pg. 198) During the war, many African Americans moved north and found industrial jobs, most of which discriminated against them, mostly giving them menial tasks. “This eventually changed in many industries as the war effort increased, and it became more obvious that every person was needed to perform skilled work for the war effort.” (African Americans in WWII) While this may seem like another major step forward for the civil rights movement, this only actually stemmed from the need for help during the war. Afterwards, the situation reverted partially back to the state it was in prior to the start. Most African Americans that had found jobs were pressured to leave their wartime positions as soldiers returned home. The World War II era included many steps forward for the civil rights movement. However, some of the steps forward were not as permanent as they might have seemed at first, and still others gave African Americans certain rights, but didn’t help the stereotypes or discrimination that was beneath the problems that were fixed. Also, due to the war, the nation was in a state that was generally unreceptive to protests, as it was massively focused on the ongoing war. While there were indeed some progress for the civil rights movement, compared to the time of the Depression and the period after the war ended, very little was achieved comparatively. Although the periods before and after included massive changes for the civil rights movement, the World War II era was not a watershed for the Civil Rights Movement. Works Cited Madaras, Larry, and James M. SoRelle. “Was the World War II Era a Watershed for the Civil Rights Movement?” Taking Sides: Clashing Views in United States History Volume 2 Sixteenth Edition. United States of America: McGraw Hill Education, 2014. 187¬203. Print. Sitkoff, Harvard. “African American Militancy in the World Was II South: Another Perspective.” Taking Sides: Clashing View in United States History Volume 2 Sixteenth Edition. United States of America: McGraw Hill Education, 2014. 196¬201. Print. African Americans in WWII & Civil Rights. Black, White & Beyond: An Interactive History. University of Akron, 2008. 16 Oct. 2015.
* Write a blog/post to respond to the question below. Incorporate the required reading in your blog/post. Use examples to support your argument.
- In analyzing the security threat from climate change, what would be an appropriate risk management strategy to deliver climate security?
Mabey, N., Gulledge, J., Finel, B. & Silverthorne, K. 2011. Degrees of risk: Defining a risk management framework for climate security London, executive summary. Washington, DC and Brussels.
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I agree with your point that during the World War II era the civil right movement was constrained by the wartime conditions, and some measures made by government were primarily aimed at the needs of war. In the essay you emphasize the current effects of the steps forward for the civil right movement, but I’d like to dwell on the long-term effects of some changes in the situation of African Americans during the period of the World War II. In the essay you raise some good examples concerning the changes in the socioeconomic status of African Americans during war. As you write, many African Americans found industrial jobs during war. In such way, they improved their position on the labor-market to the certain extent....
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