Skip to main content

tv   Lectures in History  CSPAN  November 20, 2016 12:00am-1:18am EST

12:00 am
an entire company with, you know, noncommissioned officer and all the men would come over together there was a lot of desertion as we got closer to the surrender. >> thank you so much. [applause] >> everybody should have one of these cards so you can go online and cd maps -- see the maps. >> are there any books for autographing? i think you can go right up front. i believe there are books for sale at the entrance. >> you're watching american
12:01 am
history tv, all weekend every weekend on c-span three. to join the conversation, like us on facebook. on lectures in history, a class on world war ii and civil rights. she talks about racial conflicts over housing, voting rights and integrating workplaces and the military. her classes about one hour and 15 minutes. hi everybody, welcome. our topic for today is black americans and world war ii. is,big question of the day how should we understand the relationship between world war ii and the modern civil rights movement? hopefully the reading give you a lot to think about. during world war ii, recruiting posters aimed at african-americans used images of miller decorated with his navy
12:02 am
cross and joe lewis and his uniform to send the image that black americans were wanted and needed in the american military and their service would be rewarded and respected. as you read, the reality of the black experience in the war was not that simple. the posters themselves, when we tease them apart, reflect this gap between promises and reality the characterize the experiences of this generation of black americans. both of these posters make it clear that the stakes in the war more high --were high. synonymous with being a symbol of opposition to i ideas andas -- naz supremacy.
12:03 am
when he squared off against a german at madison square gardens, 2 million people tuned in. in the u.s. army a month after the attack at pearl harbor and soon became the face of a recruitment campaign encouraging black men to enlist in the army. in response to criticism from civil rights leaders that he was using his fame to legitimize what was at the time a very segregated military, his response was always the same. there are a lot of things wrong with america but hillary is not going to fix them. itin and again, he changed from america's record on race to germany's nazi's record on race. lewis did his basic training in a segregated unit and spent the
12:04 am
rest of his enlistment promoting black recruitment and fighting in basestion fights around the world. but despite his celebrity status, he was no stranger to the humiliation experienced by black soldiers. segregated facilities, lack of resources, rebel at -- racial appetites -- epithets. lewis and his joe military service makes it clear that democracy and white supremacy could and did coexist. came to fame through his courageous actions at pro harbor. werejapanese planes sweeping over the uss west virginia, he carried his wounded captain to safety and took over manning a machine gun.
12:05 am
that would've been a courageous action under any circumstances, but it was even more so because he did not have any gunnery training. black sailors in the u.s. navy were restricted to behind the scenes roles like messman, cooks and stewards. miller was a cook and at the time the alert when up, he is been below deck gathering laundry. despite lack of training, he went very much above and beyond the call of duty. in may of 1942, tori miller became the first african-american in u.s. history to receive the navy cross. that is the navy's second highest award for courage under fire. the navy sent him on a war bond for and used his face like in this poster to drum up krugman among african-americans -- drum up recruitment among african-americans.
12:06 am
shiphen dorie miller's went down in the south pacific, the u.s. navy was still a rigidly segregated organization, and despite miller's actions at pearl harbor, he had been promoted no more than cook first class -- third class. in life and death, dori miller was a symbol. a symbol of what? world war ii was a watershed of the limitations of the promises and racial reforms of the war years? as we talked about in some of our first classes, one of the biggest debates is over chronology and periodization. when did civil rights begin? was it during emancipation or was it later?
12:07 am
this period lays a really key role in the way historians understand the modern black freedom struggle. it is clear the war years brought a lot of gains for civil rights, but also prove a profound disappointment to those hoping for lasting transformation in american race relations. in the most simple terms possible, it changed some things but failed to change others. understanding the how and why is where i think things get interesting. we want to use our time today to talk about some of the ways black americans experienced world war ii, responded to it, and the impact of the war years in shaping the postwar civil rights unit. of the talk about some gains and limitations of racial reforms in these years and we will talk about some of the ways veterans continue to fight for
12:08 am
civil rights on the home front. when people have looked back on the world war ii years, a lot of individuals, and a good number of historians, have hypothesized to white americans again to block away -- back away from white supremacy during these years because of nazi germany. it showed where obsession with racial purity could lead. that is true to an extent. when they set the nurnberg laws and set strict limitations on people's lives, some of the aspects of those laws, the black press almost immediately pointed out, were modeled on jim crow statutes here it was confirmed by not the -- nazi leaders.
12:09 am
they were hammering home the parallels between germany and europe -- america. the only difference between germans hunting down black men hunting down black men mississippi is that one was approved by the government and one was overlooked. in 1941, they editorialize the fact that himmler had adapted jim crow ds -- hitler had adapted jim crow laws proved how terrible
12:10 am
they were. -- by the way, we are raising a new generation of fascist right here in new jersey. black americans attempted to use reports coming out of germany to spur their white countrymen into doing soul-searching on race. they did not just sit around and wait for the soul-searching to take root. he sees the opportunity of the war to create change. d?s doubled th >> it is the notion that to defeat not see as him, we have sm, we have to win the war at home. prof. titus: as a strategy it was laid out a month after pearl harbor in a letter printed in
12:11 am
the "pittsburgh courier," a widely read black newspaper. two v's.posed and a vvictory without for victory within. and hea cafeteria worker asked some questions that resonated very deeply with courier" readers. how they should respond to this crisis? should i enlist, should i buy war bonds? should i make sacrifices to support the war effort even though i am not totally free myself? should iompson put it, "
12:12 am
sacrifice my life to live half american? will things be better for the next generation in the piece to follow? would it be demanding too much to divide -- demand full citizen rights in exchange for my life? is the kind of america i know worth defending?" these are serious questions. two weeks after this letter appeared in the paper, they launched a wartime campaign. the response from readers was overwhelming, and lack papers across the country started taking it up as well. people chose to pursue double v in many different ways. during the war years, embers of the naacp exploded -- membership of the naacp exploded. the new branches
12:13 am
established were in the south, which was a region where white residents were known to be quick to fire, effect and harass naacp members. i think this shows us something about the spirit of black .mericans during this campaign this is a poster advertising the naacp 1944 convention. how did this poster use wartime imagery to get a point across? >> it is pretty clearly saying that the naacp has a responsibility to get rid of jim crowe laws and that jim crow and nazism is linked together. prof. titus: yes, they are
12:14 am
clearly linked together. what about the hand? the imagery there? >> it is a struggle and it is a war. it were not just at war with fascism, that at war with jim they might need those violent means to get victory within that war. prof. titus: yes, and victory is literally within their grasp. jim crow was almost within the naacp's power to choke out. it does look like that is actually a white hand on the poster, which i think is interesting. isf. titus: i think that probably just the shading on
12:15 am
this particular poster, but it is an interesting observation. given the message they were trying to send, i think it is probably just the shading. the naacp is an interracial organization, but i think that is probably just the shading. as mentorship in the organization was exploding, naacp lawyers chose this particular moment to really step on the legalck foundations of white supremacy. what was going on in the courts? were they winning any big victories in the courts? certainly not with respect to housing. many of them thought the judicial system would help them with housing during world war ii , and for many of them, it did not. prof. titus: there is a housing case it comes before the court in the late 40's, but it is not a great victory. it is not something they're going to put forward as a
12:16 am
massive step forward, although it is a half victory, you might say. >> there were two. theley versus kramer, where supreme court indicated that racial covenants were no longer constitutional, it and in 1940, smith versus all right, where the declared that mississippi white primary was unconstitutional and primaries would have to be racially integrated henceforth. prof. titus: good. shelley versus kramer is the one i was mentioning, and it is a half victory. as was said, the justices ruled that restrictive covenants cannot be legally enforced unconstitutional to legally enforce a restrictive covenant because it is the state
12:17 am
taking public action to support and prop up segregation. what they don't say is very important. they don't say you can't write a restrictive government, or that -- restrictive covenant, they are not saying it is illegal to write and maintain them, they are something saying you cannot take them to court and expected to be held up in court. but if real estate agents go on and mortgage brokers ago along, and the people who live there go a long, that doesn't necessarily mean a lot. stepitutionally, it is a forward, but on the ground it is not a major step forward. that is the shelley case. 1948. the other case andrew
12:18 am
referenced, this is the primary case. i get the sense that people don't know what a white primary is. you clear on what a white primary is? , white primary essentially this was one of the major ways african-americans were kept away from the polls in the south. the south and this period was a one-party region, it was just assumed that the general election really doesn't matter because southern states go for the credit candidate -- democratic candidate. the election that mattered in the states was the primary. they maintained it was a private club and they could make their own rules about membership, and thus african-americans could not participate in the primary election, the only election that mattered.
12:19 am
this case knocks that down. the white primary is unconstitutional. the white primary was a major -- majormaintaining tool for maintaining discrimination. when a lot of us think of voter discrimination in the south in this era, we think of literacy test primarily. the reason literacy tests became so prevalent was because the naacp got the white primary knocks down. it is an important victory, it does not open the gates to widespread black voting it means those who are attempting to obstruct widespread black voting have to find other tools to use. is just going to be democratic, but then the flip-flop happened.
12:20 am
now the south is republican. when did that flip happen? prof. titus: 1970's, basically. court in addition to what is happening in the court, direction action was taking a step forward during the war years. interracial group of pacifists who were committed to combating racial discrimination through direct action, putting their bodies on the line formed a new civil rights organization called the congress of racial equality which is better known as core. core activists pioneered the use of citizens to challenge racial discrimination at lunch chicago.across not the deep south. these are practices that become
12:21 am
widespread by the 1950's and 1960's and we tend to associate them with the south. but these tactics in terms of civil rights are pioneered in the northern cities during world war ii. the war also gave lack workers some new tools to combat discrimination in the workforce. what is happening on the employment front during these years? what are some of the advances in employment? >> many jobs became widely available because many young men , so it was ther fact that they needed to hire like americans and other types of americans. prof. titus: demographics are really shifting. we would assume that the fact
12:22 am
that these demographics are shifting so dramatically means that most employers would recognize exactly what you just said. we need to start hiring african-americans in larger numbers keswick young white men are going to war -- larger numbers because young white men are going off to war. but it takes a lot of fighting to achieve. the summer of 1941, the leading black voice in the labor movement is the head of the pullman porter union. massivethe threat of a march on washington by black workers to pressure the white house and to taking some steps to open up jobs in the defense industry to african-americans. as american industries were shifting toward wartime production, hundreds of thousands of whites were finding high paid jobs in this industry,
12:23 am
whites who were not going off to fight. they were so lucrative that they were pulling their families out of the depression. but more than half of employers were using more related goods in 1941 and refused to hire african-americans at all. and the other half only hired blacks in lower-level, unskilled positions. defenselph's view, the jobs offered the best chance for advancement for blacks in a generation. it came with advancement, an opportunity to be trained in new skills. these were jobs worth fighting for. randolph launched a march on washington movement. organizers for the march canvassed in black churches, they went into stores and pool halls, wherever they could find people and they found and a
12:24 am
norma's amount of interest. but early summer of 1941, the black of 250,000 upset workers marching on the white house became a very real possibility. it was also a very real concern for franklin roosevelt. in addition to all the usual concerns that any sitting president feels when being confronted with the threat of a mass march, roosevelt was worried that the president so many black demonstrators in washington would cause increased worldwide attention to the fact that washington, d.c. was a very segregated city. the humiliation of racial discrimination in the sea were best -- in washington, d.c. were best summed up in this photograph. have any of you seen this before? today, according parks is one of the best-known photographers of the 20th century, he also directed "shaft."
12:25 am
at the time, he was just another african-american employee resident of washington, d.c. who was forced to deal with the humiliation of discrimination. his first day in the city, i think he got thrown out of 3-4 different establishments. yet been hired work as a photographer but when he would try to take photos, he kept getting thrown out because he was running afoul of segregation laws. at the end of the day, he spent the evening sitting in the office sharing stories with a shen named ella watson and was a janitor in the farm security administration office. as they talked, parks became so moved by her story, the tragedy and discrimination and poverty, that he asked her to pose. he very consciously modeled the shot on american gothic, putting the flag as the backdrop. his intention was to demonstrate
12:26 am
between the american ideals that were so much talked about during the war, the symbol of a classic americana and the reality of the nation's treatment of its lack citizens. gordon parks went on to a legendary career that a lot of people consider this to be his most powerful photograph. .t is one of my favorites a mass demonstration by black workers in washington, d.c. would have further highlighted the tension between the ideals and the reality in the nation's capital. so roosevelt asked his wife, eleanor, one of his most reliable liaisons with the black immunity, to negotiate with the march on washington leaders and find out what it would take to stop the march from happening. so when eleanor roosevelt got she to washington, d.c., told her husband and nothing short of an antidiscrimination ordinance, an actual change in the law, would stop the march from happening.
12:27 am
just a few weeks before these two hundred 50,000 people were scheduled to come to washington, d.c., roosevelt offered a partial concession. for months, randolph and walter white of the naacp had been pressuring him to ban racial discrimination in the defense industry and desegregate the armed forces. theevelt says, we cannot do second, it would create chaos and i cannot do that at this moment. but he agreed to the first, 88uing an executive order, 02. -- bansd employers employers with federal contracts from a discriminatory hiring. many observers at the time considered this to be the most meaningful action in support of black rights since reconstruction, and in response,
12:28 am
randolph agreed to cancel the march, even though the march on washington movement continued as a social movement throughout the next few years. in the wake of this, defense contractors protested that many of their white employees would refuse to work with blacks. many simply ignored roosevelt order. the black workers, knowing they now how'd the executive order on their side, they pushed for compliance. detroit, city we have talked a lot about, black foundry workers in the dodge plant staged to asking for 1941, transfers to more highly paid jobs on the production line.
12:29 am
the increase had been from 3% to 8%, and employment rates for black americans had tripled. we have a body of evidence that world war ii was an important watershed moment for civil rights, but when we back away from it a little bit and look at the big picture, it becomes more clear that a plot of the gains made were largely symbolic victories. as the war intensified and casualties began to mount, a lot of black newspapers shelved v andcalls for double just emphasized the war effort. the naacp did open up more jobs for blacks, but the agency did not have any enforcement powers. it could publicize instances of
12:30 am
discrimination in the workplace, it could release a report saying, packard is discriminating against black workers, but he could not take legal action against packard. so although employment rates were up for african-americans during the war, the majority were still trapped in menial jobs, jobs not providing skills that would help them to rise through the ranks. black workers definitely made some gains on the shop floor during the war years but they had to fight tooth and nail. that only against their employers, but sometimes against their coworkers and their own unions. this propaganda poster i think is interesting and it presents an image of racial unity. these workers put aside any differences or disagreements they might have to come together because they have a common devotion to supporting the war effort. the reality of workplace
12:31 am
integration was often a lot messier than an image like this would suggest. at the packard plant in detroit , which produced tanks, efforts to transfer black workers to the production line led to white workers walking off the job in response to the idea of working with black men and the subsequent removal of black workers. when union officials refused to strongly condemn these hate strikes, black workers launched their own walkout in may of 1943. as and as they came back to work, more than 25,000 white assembly workers walked out at the prospect of working side-by-side with a handful of black men. the whole plant shutdown. this is in the middle of the war. at this point, the war labor board intervened. it suspended 30 strike leaders black and white and ordered the
12:32 am
rest back to work. the only individual who was threatened with the draft was christopher alston, who was the union steward who organize the black workers. when he refused to back down on the demand that the company hire black women, alston was fired, drafted and sent to the aleutian islands in the span of a week. this was not limited to detroit. similar hate strikes launched by white workers happened all across the country. philadelphia, baltimore, chicago. then there were the battles over housing. what happened on the housing front during the war? >> they try to tie the propaganda that was going on before the war and so when they were saying let's spend less money on housing, then if they were going to build a black community, it would give them an
12:33 am
excuse to give them a dilapidated, poorly equipped housing. prof. titus: this idea of building housing for african-americans in and of itself was super controversial, right? are there specific instances of that that you can remember? what happened in detroit? riots.e was the housing they were building the homes and some and said, we are going to make them african-american only housing, and the whites were like, we need housing. they were like, we are going to mix them. notthey said no, we are going to mix them, and the black said they did not want to live here and everything blew up. prof. titus: right. >> all the blacks were moving up to the northern cities, this new
12:34 am
black population because of the constrictions from prewar housing laws, so many northern cities had to create new housing but because many white neighborhoods didn't want a black neighborhood next to them, they protested. really the only place white protest was when the black communities were put out of the way, generally and very toxic or rundown areas, and then the black community protested, as well. prof. titus: that is a really good summation. going off what you said, to what extent was that happening in the housing front during the war, to what extent is this the next chapter in an ongoing side of is -- ongoing saga spanning the 20th century? is there anything that is new here or different?
12:35 am
>> the only thing that would be new within the discussion is whether the houses should be temporary or permanent. that was a very specific war effort phenomenon, whereas in the previous and further discussions prior and after the war, it was mainly should blacks be allowed at all, instead of what kind of accommodations they should have within the community. prof. titus: yes. and that is revolving around this question of housing of defense workers. you mentioned the increase in migration. this is the second great migration. so we are seeing similar patterns set off by the first great migration. similar responses, but now there is a war for democracy. that shifts the way the rhetoric has to be employed. because of the restrictions in housing we have been talking about over the last several
12:36 am
class meetings, the fact that african-american neighborhoods in most northern, urban centers were penned in. african-americans could not move outside the walls of these neighborhoods because of all kinds of things, the way mortgages were written, the inability to get insurance, white violence, walls, all kinds of things. as this migration swelled, more and more people get trapped in tiny neighborhoods. because many of these people were defense industry workers, men and women who were going off to work in plants contributing to the war effort, the federal government for the first time begin to say, look, i think we need to get involved in the housing market, we need to offer low-cost housing options for these workers and their families. danielle pointed out, whenever that conversation
12:37 am
unfolded in a local area, the question of where this community will go, it became incredibly problematic. the sojourner truth incident in detroit, why did residents in the communities surrounding the locations selected for the sojourner truth homes, why did they respond like this? >> a kind of goes back to what we discussed before, a house is a usually the biggest investment that somebody is going to make and you want your investments to appreciate rather than depreciate. a lot of people viewed that if they have black neighborhoods right next to their neighborhoods that somehow their home would depreciate in value. it just became a thing that,
12:38 am
they didn't care if it happened to another neighborhood, but could not happen in their neighborhood. prof. titus: not in my back yard. that is a sentiment kind of ageless, i think. >> you are telling us about plantation architecture where they put the slave houses behind the trees and at the edge of the property. if you have a white community, you don't want the black community and the middle, you want them over at the edge of town where no one goes. again, not my backyard, but also out of sight and out of mind. >> i think another part of it too was there was this white fear that existed that, well, we can't have these people here. it's almost like, why would you give good or even semi-ok resources to people who were viewed as lesser? they did not see them as equal,
12:39 am
so why would we waste resources on them? everything was seen as a zero-sum game. any resources given to african-americans were seen by whites as something taken away from whites who are more deserving of those resources. when the sojourner truth homes are proposed, white homeowners in the surrounding neighborhoods complained so loudly about this that congress got involved. huac ended up investigating the black groups who were calling for the original policy of this being a black complex to be continued. and in the state of this kind of outcry, housing officials flip-flopped. like danielle said, back and forth, first this will be a black complex, and that after the outcry from the white neighbors, no it will be for white workers. then after more outcry from the
12:40 am
african-americans, it will be a complex for black workers again. the idea that this could just be a complex for defense workers picket house both whites and blacks was unfathomable to them. so what happens when african-american families start moving into the sojourner truth homes in february of 1942? >> white families in the neighborhood blockaded the new homes and reacted violently. they set fires and threw stones. they attacked a man in his truck who was trying to ask the police for help so you get to his house. -- once thettacked riots started, police attacked the black protesters instead of the white protesters. i remember one police officer saying it would be suicide if he laid a hand on a white attacker during the riots. prof. titus: this becomes an
12:41 am
all-out fight, but i think about 100 people were arrested. i think all but five of them were black. beaten, the black protesters, who were just trying to move into their homes, or the friends and family of those trying to move into their homes who came to their defense. the white rioters were largely untouched by police. even after housing officials made their final determination that even in the wake of this violence, this complex was for black workers and give the order they should be able to continue moving in, the police continued to block them for several more weeks, saying we don't have the resources to protect you. thus, you can't move into these homes. the racial tensions in detroit were so high-pitched during the war years that "life" magazine
12:42 am
ran a headline that detroit was dynamite and it could blow tler or if you block the u.s.. the u.s. ould blow up riot broke out over the course of three days, rioters looted stores and private homes, attacked passersby, 24 people were killed 20 of them were black. detroit police openly sympathized with the white rioters. many literally stood by as white rioters attacked black passersby. over the course of the riots, police killed 17 african-americans but not a single white writer was harmed.
12:43 am
rioter was harmed. that is a quick overview of some of the ways that this tension between change and resistance in the war years played out in the home front. if we shift our attention over to the military, we see in the weeks and months after pearl harbor, huge numbers of african americans were flocking to recruitment centers motivated by racism, --age patriotism, and opportunities for full citizenship. a large number of african-americans refused to participate in the war effort on the grounds that until african-americans enjoy the rights of citizenship, they should not make the sacrifices that citizens are asked to make. that is a different interpretation for double v. it makes black support for the war conditional upon good faith effort to achieve real change. drafteesumber of black during the war years refused
12:44 am
induction on the grounds that they ethically could not serve in a segregated military and they filed for conscientious objector status. very few of them were actually granted. the vast majority of black draft resisters, including members of the nation of islam, served prison terms for draft evasion. this is at the beginning of the period that joe lewis and dorie miller were used as symbols to attract black recruits to a military that was still segregated. this was an approach that took some time to evolve. in the early days of the war, black recruitment was not high on the list of priorities for military officials. they had assumed and projected that probably 10% of the military during the war would be african-americans and when the numbers rose beyond that, they started turning black enlistees away at the door on the grounds that they didn't have facilities to train them and their presence
12:45 am
in such large numbers would demoralize white troops, who would not go to war if they could see that african-americans were also signing up to serve their country. infants -- events ensured that this kind of resistance didn't last long. between fierce protest from the black community and the intense need for more men, by 1942, recruitment, not exclusion was the order of the day. but, black troops faced discrimination at every turn. they were forced to train and fight largely in segregated units, faced substandard conditions in camps, and were often barred from using post facilities like movie theaters or the post exchange. they were forced to eat in the jim crow car and eat the meal they brought with them, while white soldiers and sometimes german and italian pows sat in nicer cars and were served in
12:46 am
the dining cars. units werey of black assigned to supply, and transportation roles, and they were important roles, but lack soldiers -- black soldiers were disproportionately represented in them. only about 12% of black servicemen actually served in combat. discontent within army ranks was widespread. black members of the women's army corps who were stationed in in ae in kansas complained desperate anonymous letter to the naacp that their company commander, i former prison guard, treated them like prisoners, not like soldiers. soldiers at an airfield in tallahassee, florida wrote that they haven't had a square meal in weeks and they were being refused access to medical care. i'm going to quote their letter. "as citizens of america, we want to serve our country and are
12:47 am
willing to sacrifice our lives to protect our loved ones. after all, we feel that as members of the armed forces, we should be treated like human beings and not dogs. " black troops in california protested that the italian pows on base were being treated worse than the black soldiers who were stationed there. the naacp received so many complaints from black soldiers about medical care, lack of food, discrimination, and brutality from all around the country that by the end of 1944, they asked branches that were located near military bases to undertake a systematic investigation of conditions on the base near their community. what would happen when black soldiers who were stationed, particularly in the south, wanted to take local leave? wanted to go into the community
12:48 am
surrounding the bases? >> they were not received well at all. prof. titus: you want to expand on that? >> in the reading, there were a lot of examples of how the white southerners did not appreciate black soldiers and they felt that the black soldiers felt they were equal to the whites and the whites were taken aback by that. they didn't understand how blacks could consider themselves on the same level. >> many were incredibly upset when they went out to town and were accused of doing things such as flirting with white women and doing other things. many of the senators of the state required that the army take investigations into this for -- and for nearly almost all
12:49 am
of them, they were found to be completely falsified, and that for the most part, black troops were one of the most well-behaved units in all of the army. prof. titus: yes. a lot of company commanders, particularly on bases in the deep south try to avoid these troubles by refusing requests for local leave and keeping black troops confined to the base. black soldiers who did leave, they were often attacked by gangs of whites, they were brought up on false charges, there were a few cases of black soldiers being lynched while still in uniform. some of those who were contacted -- attacked drew attention by taking bold stands, by refusing to sit on the back of the bus, by using a white restroom or defending a black woman who was being harassed by whites or by
12:50 am
going out with a white woman. others were attacked solely because they were black men and women walking around in united states military uniforms. the durham, north carolina area was the scene of a lot of these racial issues. in the summer of 1944, two black privates were turned away from a cafe in oxford, a small town not far from the post. door,y stomped out the one of them called the proprietor a white son of a bitch. the local sheriff have been having dinner and he got up and followed them outside. he clubbed one of them over the head and dragged the other to jail. the men he had clubbed over the head ran back to base and told
12:51 am
his colleagues what happened. about 60 men from the base went to the jail to try and get their friend out. they meet the police chief at the top of the steps. he slaps one of them, drugs run -- drags one, which is gun at another. the soldiers refused to disperse and the police start firing tear gas into the crowd. at this point, the soldiers tried to storm the jail and when they got to the front door, they found the entire town police mountedned up behind a machine gun purchased by the police force specifically for black soldiers were going to be stationed on this base. this was anticipated. it was anticipated by law
12:52 am
enforcement officials who expected a black man to be dangerous, expected them to step out of their place and challenge southern racial norms and who were determined to violently resisted these attempts to challenge the traditional racial order. five weeks after this, a private lay dead in the streets of durham. the story started like so many of these do, when he got onto a city bus. were huge points of confrontation between black soldiers and white southerners during the war years. 4, booker t194 spicely and a group of black soldiers were ordered to get to the back of the bus. cely reviews.
12:53 am
he pointed to the front of the the ordinances were listed in said move, is the law. when the soldiers got on, he appealed to them as comrades in uniform. why should he have to give up his seat? he said, i thought i was democracy,is war for mi not as good to stop a bullet as you are? why should i give up my seat? eventually the white soldiers agreed and they started to move to the back of the bus to sit in spaces that were available. this infuriated the driver and he started swearing at all three of them. based on some of the other conversations we had about segregation, why do you think this was so enraging for the driver? >> this is one of the things we
12:54 am
talked about with the partitioning and all that stuff. with the types of black segregation. it wasn't just keep the blacks apart from the whites, the whites needed to be at the front of the bus and the blacks need to be at the back of the bus and never the twain shall meet. it is not the fact -- just the fact that spicely is sitting in the front, but the white soldiers are going to be back. prof. titus: yes, even whites are challenging the racial order. it was a complete, i guess, you could say he felt -- most of these jim crow laws were made to noe power to people who had reason to have power. and this man was empowered by a being able to say this is my bus
12:55 am
that i control and here are these soldiers who were blatantly disrespecting him. he probably felt very disempowered by this and he felt that his whole social order that he had been raised on had gone away and he probably felt very self-conscious. prof. titus: yes, exactly. his authority is being challenged on multiple levels. under segregation, bus drivers had more power than they ever had before or have ever had since. up to go to the front of the bus, he mutters, , youu were not for f -- 4f wouldn't be driving this bus.
12:56 am
was calling him unfit to serve the military was -- and was an affront to patriotism and masculinity. for a black man to say this to a white man in front of a bus full of passengers who is getting his authority disregarded, this situation was explosive. the council responded to this. at this point spicely understands this is getting dangerous. , he his stop comes up apologizes to the bus driver, it's often tries to make a quick exit, but the driver grabbed a pistol that he kept under the seat. many busow laws, drivers were allowed to be armed. twice in point blank range and killed him instantly. he gets back on the bus and
12:57 am
finishes the bus route. then he turns himself into the police. we don't have any sense of what passengers on the bus, the white soldiers, the others, how they are responding to this. you can probably imagine that most people are terrified and trying to get off the bus as quickly as possible. counsel is charged with murder, he goes to trial, all-white jury deliberates for half an hour before acquitting him on all charges on the ground that he inled booker spicely self-defense. stories like this are far too common. there are bright spots, too. the marine corps began accepting african-americans in 1942 in segregated units. this was something they had never done before. in december of that year, one of the first black marines was accosted while only by a team of
12:58 am
-- accosted while on leave by a team of white marine mps. they arrested him and threw him in jail on the charges of impersonating a marine. he was in jail for five days before his commanding officer was able to get him out. the defense was, there cannot possibly be such a thing as a black marine. obviously they missed that directive. that was the defense they gave. huff's commanding officer was outraged by this. he took steps to defend him. he went on to become one of the first sergeants of the black marines. he was promoted to first sergeant in 1944 before shipping overseas to the pacific. this is him drilling troops in 1943. some base commanders criticized segregation and some encouraged local white to treat black soldiers with respect. uff'sintervened, like h
12:59 am
did when soldiers under their command were mistreated by civilian authorities. a few dismissed employees who were engaging and racial discrimination and even before the war department's directive desegregating recreational facilities on bases, some already allowed it. by late 1944, black combat units were still a minority, but 22 of them were fighting in the european theater. the test geeky airmen -- tu skeegee airmen were escorting bombers in italy. some were fighting with patton in france. the men in this unit became some of the first americans to liberate the concentration camps. during the last major german offensive in europe, the battle which pushed the
1:00 am
allied forces back into belgium, penalties were so high that volunteers were called from the african-american service units in the area.
1:01 am
1:02 am
1:03 am
1:04 am
1:05 am
1:06 am
1:07 am
1:08 am
1:09 am
1:10 am
1:11 am
1:12 am
1:13 am
1:14 am
1:15 am
1:16 am
1:17 am


info Stream Only

Uploaded by TV Archive on