WORLD WAR II MINORITIES

Historical Background
The American armed forces fighting in the World War II did not only
involve the white American men in the military, but also women and
non-white Americans commonly called the minorities. These minorities
were the African-Americans, Japanese-Americans, Mexican-Americans,
Navajo-Americans and other non-native Americans. This paper will
investigate the role played by the war in advancing gains for these
minorities particularly as it associates to changes motivated by the
demand for human resources in war industries.
The role of the minority during the war was necessitated by the demand
for more labor and service in the war front and back at home. The
development of the role of minorities and women in American during the
World War II later advanced to be one of the major social changes of the
past Century. Despite having these changes gradually taking place and
spreading over United States before, the World War II became a major
catalyst for such a change. During these distressed years, the US was
forced to use all of its human personnel both in the armed forces and
the civilian labor to continue with the war. This requirement together
with a clear aim of defeating dictatorship and tyranny abroad helped
craft an environment that made people at home to be receptive to social
change.
Gain for the Minorities
World War II did not initiate or complete the fight for civilian rights
in America. However, it accelerated social change and made a way for
even more remarkable social development in the subsequent years. World
War II produced new opportunities for African Americans, women, and
other minorities. The war period was a gain to these groups because it
provides them with such opportunities that they could not have got
before the war. The demand for increased production in the war period
compelled employers to tap into formerly ignored labor market and to
employ women and minorities. In this fashion, Americans who were
marginalized prior to the war found new job opportunities in the
industries at home and in the military. Consequently, the historically
immobilized groups in the American society benefit from the new found
success and started to emerge from the previous recluse status.
Minorities at home during World War II were involved in the war as much
as every one else in America.
After their involvement, they became the power house behind the military
work crews serving the war. They prepared land for military set ups,
highways, and military and supply camps. The worked in the mechanical
and technical support pools for repairing the automobiles, machinery and
equipment. Many men worked in factories while women served as nurses in
hospitals and military health centers.
Evidence One
Women were positioned in more skilled occupations than they were
accustomed to in non-war times and even to date. These groups served as
engineers, mechanics and researchers. Women`s Army Corps was created was
created in 1942, and women were engaged overseas to the fighting fields.
Even if they were not involved in express fighting, they served in
support functions like drivers and pilots. The increased use of women in
the labor force was necessitated by the fourteen million men who served
in the military during World War II. Millions of women served in the
non-traditional jobs which generally paid less pay than men.
Additionally, over 215,000 women were involved in the four military
branches during the war.
The newly established a special Women`s Army Corps section had over
100,000 women serving as nurses, doctors, office personnel, and
non-combatants roles. Some women served in the transport section during
the war as well as in the navy in roles equal to those of men. These
new skills and economic freedom obtained by women both at home and
abroad during the World War II, created a lasting social impact.
Evidence Two
In 1940, the minorities were engaged after the passing of the Select
Service Act which allowed African-Americans to be enlisted in all levels
of the armed forces. They were composing of 11% of the manpower in spite
of the discrimination directed to them at that time. Thousands of
Hispanics were also involved in the war as well as Japanese-Americans
who participated. The minority unit of the US army was the most adorned
unit in the US history after 1943 when they won the right to be enlisted
in the army. For example, African-Americans served with difference in WW
II. Such instances were the Tuskegee Airmen in the Romania and Berlin
bomber missions. They got seven Legion of Merit honors, 162 Bronze Stars
and 65 Silver Stars for courage in the war.
Mexican Americans who were also discriminated during the WW II, had
seventeen service personnel received Medals of Honor. The
all-Mexican-American military unit became one of the most adorned units
in the war. The Japanese Americans who served in WWII faced a different
kind of discrimination because they were fighting against Japan.
However, their “Purple Heart Battalion” Combat Team became the most
decorated military unit in American history. The Navajo Americans highly
contributed to the Allied Pacific victory due to their use of encoded
native Navajo language for communication.
Evidence 3
Back at home in the US, there was great demand for labor in the public
and private sectors and production industry to produce the needed
equipment during war. Despite the increased demands many industries were
not willing not hire some minority groups, particularly African
Americans. To dissent such discrimination, A. Philip Randolph planned a
demonstration of 100,000 people on Washington, D.C. Because at that time
the city could not hold up to such a large protest, President Roosevelt
approved an executive order compelling all employers and labor unions to
accept all workers indiscriminately10. This allowed full and equitable
involvement of all workers in security industries and production
industries without discrimination of race, color, or nationality.
Because of this provision, the protest was stopped and several new
opportunities were opened to minorities in various US industries.
During World War II, many of African Americans moved from the South of
the country to the North and Midwest due to increased production jobs in
the later. However as minorities took up these increased opportunities
for minorities, they still experienced discrimination wherever they went
to. James Farmer established the Congress of Racial Equality to protest
and fight this discrimination and prejudice against the minorities. This
became the gain that took the fight for equality to a hire level and was
as a result of the World War II impact.
Expected Minority Gains
Regardless of great social steps forward, impediments still remained in
the attainment of equality and social rights by the minorities. Japanese
Americans did not benefit from the opportunities opened up to minorities
during the war. Instead, due to the anti-Japan atmosphere in the US,
they were corralled into the U.S. Rockies concentration camps. This
action was justified as a national security measure that time but not to
all. This confinement of Japanese Americans throughout the World War II
is now universally analyzed as a dishonorable episode in American
history.
Additionally, African Americans faced racial segregation and
subordination while in the armed forces but few soldiers saw
successfully finished the mission. They fought bravely and emerged from
World War II stronger and focused to end racism back at home. Back at
home, many African American civilians got jobs in security plants and
endured racism on the job. They all got the strength to endure such
discrimination and racist rioting in the streets, of which the most
remarkable occurred in 1943 in Detroit.
Women were admitted into the US workforce in numbers never experienced
before. They got fulfilling jobs traditionally available for men only
and their participation added to American prosperity as the war
continued. However after the war, most women gradually reverted back to
their conventional responsibilities as homemakers.
Conclusion
It is evident that the US armed forces could not have won the war if
there was no support and participation by the groups referred to as
minorities. This contribution made the Native Americans and the US
public in general to realize the importance of the minority
contributions. The World War II provided exceptional service and job
opportunities to minorities and women in the United States. This laid
the foundation for the civil rights and women rights movements that came
later to fight for minority rights. The progress made by the discussed
marginalized groups in the period of the war stimulated them to fight
for equality. Their inspiration for them and others was to make freedom
gains they had briefly enjoyed during the war to be a feature of their
American life
BIBLIOGRAPHY
Digital History reader, Women and the minority group in the world war
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Electronic High School, EHS. “Identify the impact of World War II on
minority groups in
America”. (2009): 1-3
George Meany. A. Philip Randolph – Civil Rights Activist. George Meany
Memorial
Archives. (2012). 1-2
Government Printing Office: Selective Service and Victory: The 4th
Report of the Director of
Selective Service: (1948): 187-190
May Elaine Tyler, Homeward Bound: “American Families in the Cold War
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Ulysses, Lee, The Employment of Negro Troops: United States Army Center
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(1965): 11-14.
.
Lee, Ulysses, The Employment of Negro Troops: United States Army Center
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EHS. “Identify the impact of World War II on minority groups in
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EHS. “Identify the impact of World War II on minority groups in
America”. (2009): 1-3
Ibid, 1-3
Lee, Ulysses. The Employment of Negro Troops: United States Army Center
of Military History. (1965): 11-14.
Ibid, 11-14.
Government Printing Office: Selective Service and Victory: The 4th
Report of the Director of Selective Service. (1948). 187-190
Government Printing Office: Selective Service and Victory: The 4th
Report of the Director of Selective Service. (1948). 187-190
EHS. “Identify the impact of World War II on minority groups in
America”. (2009): 1-3
10George Meany. A. Philip Randolph – Civil Rights Activist. George
Meany Memorial Archives. (2012). 1-2
George Meany. A. Philip Randolph – Civil Rights Activist. George
Meany Memorial Archives. (2012). 1-2
Digital History reader, Women and the minority group in the World War
II, (2009): 5:1-5
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