Minority Civil Rights in the US After WWII


The minority in the US had struggled with segregation and discrimination for a long time before the civil rights laws were applied. World War II opened up an opportunity for the blacks, Latinos, and Hispanic Americans to challenge some of the social prejudices. After the war, the minority groups could access employment opportunities and vote. These developments were realized through advocacy for their civil rights.

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World War II provided a unique opportunity for the segregated minorities in the United States to momentarily forget their racial differences and work together in the fight against their common enemies. During this period, the blacks were allowed to join the US Army under special regiments. Such an opportunity would have been open for the minority in the society, and it was apparent that discrimination was still present because the regiments were led by white generals exclusively. After the war, there were changes in the civil rights of the minority. The research question for this paper is, “what was the nature of the civil rights of the minority in the US after World War II?”


Before World War II, the blacks and other members of the minority ethnic groups in the United States could not get jobs in the military (Phillips, 2012). The profession was strictly reserved for the whites, but after World War II, the military started recruiting regiments with blacks and Latinos (Zamora, 2009). Over 500,000 Latinos served in the military during the war (Latino Americans in WWII at a glance, 2014). This change did not eliminate discrimination among the races because the blacks and the rest of the minority ethnic group could not rise to leadership positions in the military (Saldin, 2014). Their regiments were led by whites, and most of the members complained about being mistreated (Civil Rights in the Postwar Era, 2014). During the war, the members of the minority groups were trained with sticks instead of guns, but after the war, the whites lifted some of the discriminatory rules (Green, 2010). The military became more aware of racism issues, but not much effort was placed on eliminating the vice (NAACP, 2014).

Civil rights movement

After World War II, blacks, Latinos, and Hispanic Americans returned home to a society that was yet to embrace them as heroes (Civil Rights 101, 2001). Discrimination still existed in society, but a civil rights movement was in effect (Plummer, 2003). The soldiers from the minority groups did not get back to the farms where they previously worked (Knepper, 2003). They looked for employment opportunities in the urban areas using their experience in the army to validate their resumes (Ridlon, 2005). These changes were followed by large migrations of the blacks and Latinos from the farms, and they settled in the urban areas like New York (Taylor, 2011). The war had broken the social prejudice that the members of the minority ethnic groups could not perform certain tasks accordingly (Burton, Podair & Weber, 2011). Their exemplary performance in the war was a challenge to the white people because they proved that they could fight for the people who discriminated against them (Civil rights, 2014). After the war, the minorities were allowed to vote (Civil Rights 101, 2014). Whites granted the minority some civil rights, but segregation still prevailed in some areas (Civil Rights, 2014).


World War II broke some of the social prejudices in American society. The majority and the minority ethnic groups united to fight the common enemy, although the process of accepting the blacks, Latinos, and the Hispanic people in the military attracted more discrimination. After the war, the minority had been empowered to challenge certain issues regarding their civil rights. They succeeded in compelling the whites to grant them some of their civil rights, but segregation still prevailed in the society.


Burton, O. V., Podair, J., & Weber, J. L. (2011). The struggle for equality essays on sectional conflict, the Civil War, and the long reconstruction. Charlottesville: University of Virginia Press.

Civil Rights 101. (2001). Web.

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Civil Rights in the Postwar Era: 1946-1953. (2014). Web. 

Civil Rights. (2014). Web. 

Civil rights: Civil War to World War II. (2014). Web. 

Green, M. C. (2010). Black Yanks in the Pacific: Race in the making of American Military Empire after World War II. New York: Cornell University Press.

Knepper, G. W. (2003). Ohio and Its People. Kent: Kent State University Press.

Latino Americans in WWII at a glance. (2014). Web. 

NAACP: A Century in the Fight for Freedom. (2014). Web. 

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Phillips, K. L. (2012). War! What is it good for? Black freedom struggles and the U.S. military from World War II to Iraq. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press.

Plummer, B. G. (2003). Window on Freedom: Race, Civil Rights, and Foreign Affairs, 1945-1988. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press.

Ridlon, F. (2005). A black physician’s struggle for civil right Edward C. Mazique, M.D. Albuquerque: University of New Mexico.

Saldin, R. P. (2014). Strange Bedfellows: War and Minority Rights. Web. 

Taylor, C. (2011). Civil Right in New York City: From World War II to the Giuliani Era. New York: Fordham University Press.

Zamora, E. (2009). Claiming rights and righting wrong in Texas Mexican Workers and job politics during World War II. College Station: Texas A & M University Press.

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