During WWII, the American armed forces were still segregated by race. Why do you think this issue became increasingly important during this era, leading to the desegregation of the Armed Forces a few years after the war?

1 Answer
Dec 13, 2016

World War 2, particularly after D-Day, was a large consumer of troops, particularly Infantry. The massive need for replacements made Black troops a important untapped source.


Segregated Black troops were normally used in non combat roles: construction, motor pool etc. Many whites were asked to join active combat units from Artillery, Anti-Aircraft, and other units of less usefulness at that point in the war. No German planes made the need for Anti-aircraft moot. Basic training is very infantry orientated so it was felt that they would adapt readily. Opening the doors to Blacks would make a large group of men available.

When there came a high demand for troops in the Battle of the Bulge Eisenhower authorize the adding of Black platoons to companies in the line. This experiment was successful and helped the later desegregation effort. White troops that fought alongside the Black troops were polled after action about their experience and they were very positive.

Actual Black combat units like: 332d Fighter Group (Tuskegee Airmen) and 452nd Anti-Aircraft Artillery Battalion also fought well.