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Minorities at War Essay

Many people’s lives changed in various ways during and after the World War II. The lives of women and minorities such as African Americans and Native Americans, changed drastically mostly in a positive way. Just like during most wars, women found jobs and opportunities. This was mainly because men and husbands went to work in industries and factories in different parts of the country while others went to war as soldiers. With reduction in the male taskforce, young girls and married women had to take up responsibilities and jobs that were traditionally considered to be for men (Mays 17).

Unlike the First World War, where women served as secretaries and nurses, in the Second World War they were placed in more skilled jobs such as: research, electronics, engineering and mechanics (Mays 17). The Women’s Army Corps was created in 1942, which enabled women to participate in combat fields as pilots and other support personnel but not in direct combat. The war served as a major platform for women in society, women started being viewed as useful in various fields and not just as caregivers. The opportunity to take part in jobs that were traditionally considered for men also empowered women psychologically (Mays 17).

The fight for equality for all citizens began after the civil war where President Lincoln freed the slaves. The Select Service Act was passed in 1940, allowing Hispanics, Native-Americans and African-Americans to enroll to all the branches of the army. The war offered opportunities for many African Americans to escape poverty in their rural homes (Reinhardt and Ganzel). Many blacks enlisted in the army trying to escape a long period of tenant farming and Depression in the Midwest and South. The army recruited Negroes but still practiced segregation (Reinhardt and Ganzel).

In the chaos of war, especially after Pearl Harbor, the army had to work together and segregation was broken. After the war, many blacks opted to remain in towns and do work related to what they did in the army instead of going back to their rural homes (Reinhardt and Ganzel). Movements for fighting for civil rights had been created. The post-war era, was a period of exceptional struggle by the African Americans against the second class citizenship that had been accorded to them. They resisted racial discrimination and segregation through nationwide protests, boycotts, rallies and civil disobedience (Reinhardt and Ganzel).

Many blacks joined civil rights movements and legal efforts were made to challenge segregation and inequality through courts. These efforts were rewarded with the passing of the Civil Rights Act in 1964 which outlawed racism and segregation. In 1965, the Voting Rights Act was also passed allowing all races to vote. The passing of these acts was a great step in the demise of second class citizenship (Reinhardt and Ganzel). The struggle by the blacks to achieve equality inspired and influenced other civil rights groups as well such as Native–Americans and Hispanics.

The war as witnessed was a great turning point for both women and minorities in America. They were all empowered by the situations created by the war to improve their status in society and fight for their rights. Work Cited: Mays, Dorothy A. Women in early America: struggle, survival, and freedom in a new world. Santa Barbara: ABC-CLIO Inc. Publishers, 2004. Reinhardt, Claudia and Ganzel, Bill. “Civil Rights for Minorities”. Wesley Living History Farm. 26 August 2010 from: http://www. livinghistoryfarm. org/farminginthe40s/life_18. html

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