March 17, 2011
History 15B, Section 8
The Backyard War – Struggle for Equality
The drastic shift in American demographics in the 20th and 21st centuries brought about reactions, especially tensions, from the many facets of the American people – African Americans, Whites, and ethnic minorities alike. Although African Americans are most commonly associated with the Civil Rights Movement, the struggle for equality on American soil was one that was experienced by a number of groups of immigrants. These groups included the Japanese, who experienced racial segregation through internment camps throughout the west, the Jews, who were turned away after attempting to seek ...view middle of the document...
One example of not being accepted by whites in the North is the formation of the Hyde Park Improvement Protective Club, who did not allow real estate agents to sell homes to incoming Blacks. In addition, they were also depicted as lazy and carefree individuals in the media. They could be seen in photographs sitting around playing banjos3, when in reality the increasing number of blacks positively affected the workforce in the North. Unfortunately, during the war, segregation continued. Blacks who served in the armed forces served separate from whites. In 1940, president Roosevelt signed the Selective Service Act4, which further supported acts of segregated service, which brought about more frustration in Black America. Similar to how African Americans were being treated differently in the U.S., Mexican Americans enlisted in the armed forces5 in order to prove that America was theirs to fight for too. Half a million Mexicans joined the war in hopes that they would be treated as equals. Many felt that although their cultural heritage was tied to Mexico, their home was the United States, and they needed to fight for the country to prove it even though many were citizens born in the nation. Before World War II, the Jews in America turned to political leaders, especially the president, to help rescue their comrades who were to be victims of Hitler in Germany. After Kristallnacht6, which were mass murders of Jews in Germany, many turned to President Roosevelt to see if he would extend racial quotas to help Jews seek refuge in the United States. He replied saying, “This is not in contemplation.” In 1939, many Jews boarded the steamship St. Louis headed for Havana, Cuba to escape Nazi oppression. However, their visas were cancelled and had to be turned away, sadly not even welcomed in Florida even after appealing to the president. The Japanese suffered similar unfair treatment as well. After the incident at Pearl Harbor, President Roosevelt approved the recommendation of the Joint Chiefs of staff to evacuate over 20,000 Japanese from Hawaii to mainland America. Many were placed in internment camps all over the west7, from California all the way to Idaho. When president Truman took over the presidency, he presented Japan with an ultimatum of unconditional surrender in which was refused, causing the order of the first atomic bomb to be dropped on Hiroshima8, instantly ending the lives of over 70,000 people.
After the War, the Civil Rights Movement challenged American society...