Drawing on oral testimony, unpublished correspondence, archival records, memoirs, and diaries, Robert F. Jefferson explores the curious contradiction of war-effort idealism and entrenched discrimination through the experiences of the 93rd Infantry Division. Led by white officers and presumably unable to fightand with the army taking great pains to regulate contact between black soldiers and local womenthe division was largely relegated to support roles during the advance on the Philippines, seeing action only later in the war when U.S. officials found it unavoidable.
Jefferson discusses racial policy within the War Department, examines the lives and morale of black GIs and their families, documents the debate over the deployment of black troops, and focuses on how the soldiers’ wartime experiences reshaped their perspectives on race and citizenship in America. He finds in these men and their families incredible resilience in the face of racism at war and at home and shows how their hopes for the future provided a blueprint for America’s postwar civil rights struggles.
Integrating social history and civil rights movement studies, Fighting for Hope examines the ways in which political meaning and identity were reflected in the aspirations of these black GIs and their role in transforming the face of America.
About the Author
Table of ContentsPreface
List of Abbreviations
Introduction: Recasting the African American Experience in World War II
Part I: The Crucible
1. The Great Depression and African American Youth Culture
2. Why Should I Fight? Black Morale and War Department Racial Policy
3. Of Sage and Sand: Fort Huachuca and the U.S. 93rd Infantry Division
Part II: The Hand that Rocks the Cradle Holds the Shield
4. Service Families on the Move
5. War Maneuvers and Black Division Personnel
Part III: Race and Sex Matter in the Pacific
6. War, Race, and Rumor under the Southern Cross
7. Relative Security in the Southwest Pacific
Epilogue: Black 93rd Division Veterans and Former Service Families after World War II
Essay on Sources