Racial Discrimination In The First World War

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The First World War, 1914 through 1918, occurred during the middle of the Jim Crow period where African-Americans were relegated to second class citizens and racial discrimination. Jim Crow separated the black population from the white population and elevated white supremacy as the rule of law. The war brought hopeful opportunity for the blacks in the hopes of achieving a measure of equality with whites and a sense of citizenship in America. The black population embraced the opportunity to do their part and show not just their loyalty but sense of worth to themselves and the white population. The paper will analyze how African Americans were affected by the war as observers and participants of the First World War. At the dawn of the twentieth …show more content…
Racial tensions drove the segregation but the migration of the white population out of the cities began to take place during this period. For the black population in the South, suspicion of disloyalty became a fear amongst the whites that the blacks would not “display patriotism for a country which failed to treat them as full and equal citizens.” In order to instill patriotism within the black communities, the white city councils and white newspapers held loyalty celebrations on draft registration day, unnecessarily targeting the black population. The war, in the African-American eyes, was seen as a chance to earn the equality between whites and blacks and tear down the barriers between the two. For the white population, the idea of black soldiers was not viewed with equality but continuing fear, which resulted in reaction by the whites to the idea of change. As black soldiers returned home, the white South and many northern cities viewed the soldiers with fear and believed the black soldiers would threaten the racial lines in America and threaten Jim Crow laws. This fear was not wholly unfounded as returning soldiers challenged the system of segregation in America. The end of war to make the world safe for Democracy brought an emboldened …show more content…
Signs of this were the 1919 race riots in the North, which was not a common occurrence before the war. The first was the mobility of the African-Americans as upwards of a million or more migrated northward as they were recruited for work in the northern industries. Another was the psychological confidence held by the returning black soldiers and given to the African-American communities as they became more expressive in their desires for civil rights and how they saw themselves as citizens, workers, and heroes. If there is one word to describe their awakening, it would be

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