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Topics: African Americans, Civil Rights, Education, Human Rights, Women's Rights
In honor of Third Class Petty Officer Robert Harrison Goodwin (June 19, 1925 - August 26, 1999). "Pop."
World War II, which lasted from 1939-1945, was the most costly war in terms of human life. The total number of fatalities, including battle deaths and civilians of all countries, is estimated to have been 56.4 million. And many people don't know that 1 million Black men served! But why did so many Black men serve in this war, especially when the armed services were segregated?
Well, according to 100 Amazing Facts About the Negro by Henry Louis Gates, Jr., "Black leaders have historically felt that African Americans could make the strongest case for freedom and citizenship if they demonstrated their heroism and commitment to the country on the battlefield."
For this reason, more than 200,000 Black men served during the Civil War. And in all actuality, 2.5 million African Americans registered for the draft when World War II began... but only 1 million actually served.
There was no doubt that African Americans saw the hypocrisy in fighting a war on behalf of a country that tolerated racism. However, the Pittsburgh Courier, the most popular African American newspaper at the time, launched a national campaign encouraging Black people to not only support the war... but to "give their all."
There had been quite a bit of stir from civil rights leaders about discrimination and segregation in the armed services, and the American Red Cross's refusal to accept blood in donor drives. But in a front page article published on February 7, 1942, the Pittsburgh Courier declared, "WE HAVE A STAKE IN THIS FIGHT... WE ARE AMERICANS TOO!"
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