Protest and Progress

While the military continued to practice segregation as a policy during World War II, African-Americans tended to speak out more often than in World War I.  The records of World War II are filled with courts-martial for speaking out against discrimination and civilians joining in fighting for equality for African-Americans in the armed forces.  The civil rights movements in both military and civilian society were more organized than they were in World War I, and the agenda of full integration and full equality, was well thought out.  If segregation was meant to keep white and black separate, it served a greater purpose by uniting African-Americans and fighting for a larger cause, even on northern military camps.  It was within these military camps that African-American military personnel fought for civil rights.

At Fort Devens, African-American men and women continued to face discrimination and unequal treatment.  While men in the barracks made plans to fight for civil rights, African-American WACs staged a sit-in that ended in court-martial.  As the war neared its end, African-American nurses experimented with integration at the base hospital.  All while German POWs found peace and embraced democratic ideas on the base. (For more on the Inter War Years, please read this blog.)