Fighting for Hope: African American Troops of the 93rd Infantry Division in World War II and Postwar America

Overview

This fascinating history shows how African-American military men and women seized their dignity through barracks culture and community politics during and after World War II.

Drawing on oral testimony, unpublished correspondence, archival records, memoirs, and diaries, Robert F. Jefferson explores the curious contradiction of war-effort idealism and entrenched discrimination through the experiences of the 93rd Infantry Division. Led by white officers and presumably unable to ...

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Fighting for Hope: African American Troops of the 93rd Infantry Division in World War II and Postwar America

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Overview

This fascinating history shows how African-American military men and women seized their dignity through barracks culture and community politics during and after World War II.

Drawing on oral testimony, unpublished correspondence, archival records, memoirs, and diaries, Robert F. Jefferson explores the curious contradiction of war-effort idealism and entrenched discrimination through the experiences of the 93rd Infantry Division. Led by white officers and presumably unable to fight—and with the army taking great pains to regulate contact between black soldiers and local women—the division was largely relegated to support roles during the advance on the Philippines, seeing action only later in the war when U.S. officials found it unavoidable.

Jefferson discusses racial policy within the War Department, examines the lives and morale of black GIs and their families, documents the debate over the deployment of black troops, and focuses on how the soldiers’ wartime experiences reshaped their perspectives on race and citizenship in America. He finds in these men and their families incredible resilience in the face of racism at war and at home and shows how their hopes for the future provided a blueprint for America’s postwar civil rights struggles.

Integrating social history and civil rights movement studies, Fighting for Hope examines the ways in which political meaning and identity were reflected in the aspirations of these black GIs and their role in transforming the face of America.

Johns Hopkins University Press

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Editorial Reviews

World War II History
An important and timely book, especially given the recent historic changes in the American political scene.
History: Reviews of New Books
Fighting for Hope provides an immensely useful model for not only historians, but also political scientists studying how race, war, and culture shaped the lives of African Americans in the early twentieth century. For students of black military history, this book is a must read.

— Judson L. Jeffries

Annals of Iowa - Andrew E. Kersten
Robert F. Jefferson provides a complex and nuanced—yet highly readable—account of the African American soldiers who served in the all-black and segregated U.S. Army's 93rd Infantry Division... A marvelous book.
Journal of American History - Gerald Early
Jefferson's Fighting for Hope is a rigorously researched, richly etched re-creation of the formation of the all-black Ninety-third Infantry Division, which fought in the Pacific theater.
American Historical Review - Alan Osur
Well-written work.
History: Reviews of New Books - Judson L. Jeffries
Fighting for Hope provides an immensely useful model for not only historians, but also political scientists studying how race, war, and culture shaped the lives of African Americans in the early twentieth century. For students of black military history, this book is a must read.
Journal of American Ethnic History - Hayward "Woody" Farrar
An invaluable contribution to military history, African American history, and American social history.
World War II History

An important and timely book, especially given the recent historic changes in the American political scene.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780801888281
  • Publisher: Johns Hopkins University Press
  • Publication date: 8/26/2008
  • Series: War/Society/Culture
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 352
  • Product dimensions: 5.90 (w) x 9.10 (h) x 1.20 (d)

Meet the Author

Robert F. Jefferson is an associate professor of history and director of the African American Studies Program at the University of Alabama at Birmingham.

Johns Hopkins University Press

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Table of Contents

Introduction Recasting the African American Experience in World War II 1

Pt. I The Crucible

1 The Great Depression and African American Youth Culture 13

2 Why Should I Fight? Black Morale and War Department Racial Policy 28

3 Of Sage and Sand: Fort Huachuca and the U.S. 93rd Infantry Division 62

Pt. II The Hand That Rocks the Cradle Holds the Shield

4 Service Families on the Move 93

5 War Maneuvers and Black Division Personnel 121

Pt. III Race and Sex Matter in the Pacific

6 War, Race, and Rumor under the Southern Cross 157

7 Relative Security in the Southwest Pacific 190

Epilogue: Black 93rd Division Veterans and Former Service Families after World War II 221

Notes 247

Essay on Sources 309

Index 313

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