Raising a Military in Black and White: America’s World War II Draft and the Making of Race
Associate Professor of American Studies
The George Washington University
Anyone with a passing knowledge of the World War II-era U.S. military likely knows that it was segregated. Less well known, surprisingly, is who exactly was segregated from whom and how the military made these decisions. Neither was simple or straightforward. This talk will explore a long-forgotten chapter of this larger story: the fraught and complex struggle over soldiers’ “proper” racial classification and placement in the segregated World War II-era military. Drawing on more than a dozen archival collections from across the country—the records of federal courts, the Selective Service, the Army, the War Department, the FBI, and so on—this talk will shed light on the evolving meaning and boundaries of race,from official state policy down to ordinary people’s attitudes and actions.
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