World War Two & Early Cold War (1940s/50s)

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FDR Discussions with A. Philip Randolph (September 27th 1940)
FDR Discussions with A. Philip Randolph (September 27th 1940)
This page contains audio of some of FDR's press conferences and meetings. Students of the wartime struggle for black equality will be interested in the discussions from the above date which offer an insight into the negotioating that led to Executive Order 8802
Johnson Library: A. Philip Randolph Oral History Transcript (1969)
Johnson Library: A. Philip Randolph Oral History Transcript (1969)
Here, Randolph discusses his relations with the White House and the key events he was engaged with: PP 1-8 deal with the push for concession in 1940/41 that led to Executive Order 8802; 13-15 deals with Truman desegregating the armed forces. Also contains his opinions on opposing Garvey, JFK, LBJ & Black Power.
March on Washington Movement Poster (1941)
March on Washington Movement Poster (1941)
As the title might suggest. A poster from MOWM.
Black Workers Call for a March on Washington (1941)
Black Workers Call for a March on Washington (1941)
This document, produced by A. Philip Randolph, sets out a call for a March on Washington to pressure FDR into ending segregation in rapidly expanding US defence industries.
'Double Victory' Pittsburgh Courier (28th March 1942)
'Double Victory' Pittsburgh Courier (28th March 1942)
Brief editorial setting out the call for double victory in one of the leading African-American newspapers of the day.
CIO poster calls for equal rights (1940-45)
CIO poster calls for equal rights (1940-45)
The Congress of Industrial Organizations was an umbrella body of industrial trade unions established in 1936. More liberal in outlook than the rival AFL, it saw racial equality as both a goal in itself and a means to unionising more industries. This poster calls support for the President's Fair Employment Practices Committee (FEPC) - the federal body that sought to remove segregation in the American workplace.
Ray Elliot - 1939-1945: "Two Wars to Win"
Ray Elliot - 1939-1945: "Two Wars to Win"
Page combining oral history, audio and images from the wartime black press detailing the nature of the 'Double V' campaign.
NAACP: World War Two Resources
NAACP: World War Two Resources
A page of primary source material from the Library of Congress site exploring NAACP activism during World War Two.
Bayard Rustin, "22 Days on a Chain Gang" (1949)
Bayard Rustin, "22 Days on a Chain Gang" (1949)
In 1947, Bayard Rustin and his fellow activists in the Fellowship of Reconciliation were sentenced after attempting an integrated freedom ride, the Journey of Reconciliation. Rustin was sentenced to hard labour and served his time in 1949 working on a chain gang in North Carolina. On being freed, Rustin wrote up the experience in 5 articles published in the New York Post. The articles led to the abolition of the Chain Gang system in North Carolina. What does the article tell you about postwar racial attitudes and the history of the ideas behind the civil rights movement?
George Houser & Bayard Rustin, Journey of Reconciliation Report (1947)
George Houser & Bayard Rustin, Journey of Reconciliation Report (1947)
The first Freedom Ride of 1947 sought to test a U.S. Supreme Court ruling, Morgan v Virginia (1946) which declared segregation on interstate bus travel unconstitutional. Like the Freedom Rides of 1961, this journey met with hostility and the activists were eventually all arrested. This was the group's own report of their motives and experience of attempting to desegregate bus travel.
"Violence in Peekskill" 1949
"Violence in Peekskill" 1949
This is a PDF of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) report into the violence in Peekskill, New York that followed a concert by Paul Robeson. What does the account tell us about post-war attitudes to race, radical politics and anti-semitism?
Civil Rights Congress, "We Charge Genocide" (1951)
Civil Rights Congress, "We Charge Genocide" (1951)
Rooted in the left-wing tradition of the twentieth-century civil rights struggle, the CRC was founded in 1946 and lasted until 1956. In 1951, the CRC attempted to have the US government indicted by the United Nations - this introduction to their case set out the charges. Actions such as this, and the affiliation of many on the left, made the CRC a target of state persecution and led those on the right to claim that civil rights activism was merely a front for communism.