Discrimination of African-American Soldiers During World War II


  • Jennifer Viles


African-Americans in the military during World War II experienced high levels of discrimination, even though they wore the same uniform as white soldiers. Many African-Americans felt that they were fighting two wars: the war against foreign enemies and the war against discrimination. African-Americans made efforts to prove themselves to their fellow white soldiers. Officer training was denied to many African-American soldiers even though many passed the test to enter the training program. While black and white men went through the same training, many African-Americans received commissions in labor units instead of fighting units. In other cases, the military allowed more specialized training, such as the Tuskegee Airmen. African-Americans also experienced discrimination when interacting with other countries, such as Australia, France, and Britain, which enacted laws specifically to prevent black American soldiers from interacting with their citizens. All nations failed to recognize black Americans for their service, and in the U.S. , African-American soldiers did not receive the Medal of Honor when their white counterparts did. The discrimination experienced by African-American soldiers connected with other issues that were at the center of the Civil Rights Movement. While the U.S. military desegregated in 1948, it was not until after the Civil Rights Movement that African-Americans began receiving recognition for their service.