African-American Contribution

The acute need for wartime production labor, coupled with President Roosevelt's Executive Order 8802 in 1941 banning discrimination in defense industries, opened up doors of opportunity that had been previously denied to most African-Americans. Between 1942 and 1945, 340,000 African-Americans migrated from the South and Midwest in pursuit of higher paying jobs in the defense plants of California's cities. Wages were indeed higher with opportunities open to both men and women.

Upon arriving in the cities surrounding major defense plants, however, African-Americans encountered some of the same discrimination that they had known previously. They were excluded from highly skilled and managerial positions, regardless of experience. Full-fledged membership in unions was not allowed, and housing was segregated with living conditions often poor. In some ways the war brought American racism into sharper focus, leading the Pittsburgh Courier to coin the phrase "The Double Victory Campaign." The "Double V" symbol came to represent the victory over racism at home and the victory over fascism abroad.

Social Justice