Oxford AASC: Photo Essay

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PHOTO ESSAY

African Americans in World War II

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United We Win

Courtesy of the National Archives

World War II could not have been won without the power of American industry and the sustained effort of citizens on the home front. Considering the demographic and social changes that this effort entailed, it is perhaps not surprising that there was considerable wartime friction between whites and blacks at home. The summer of 1943 witnessed more than 250 racial conflicts in forty-seven American cities, including Mobile, Detroit, and New York. The Federal government did little to address the unfair policies that were at the root of these conflicts or attempt to prevent their recurrence. Yet the war effort nevertheless had some positive social effects, showing that America had more to gain by utilizing all segments of its population than by keeping one group perpetually marginalized. This color poster, titled "United We Win" and featuring a photograph by Howard Liberman of integrated aircraft factory workers, shows that by 1943 cracks in the isolating wall of Jim Crow were already beginning to appear.

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