The Military history of African Americans spans from the arrival of the first black slaves during the colonial history of the United States to the present day. In every war fought by or within the United States, African Americans participated. However, due to racial discrimination they were often classified as unfit for combat and were not allowed on the front lines. They were mostly given support duties, and were segregated from units with white soldiers.
Some of that changed in 1941, when President Franklin Delano Roosevelt signed Executive Order 8802 prohibiting racial discrimination in the national defense industry. The order was enacted partly due to pressure from African-American civil rights leaders but also due to the realization that America could be forced into another global war, needing the aid of additional soldiers.
This was a time in history when blacks were blatantly discriminated against. “White Only,” “Colored to the Back of the Bus,” “Colored Entrance” and “Colored Waiting Room” signs were displayed without discretion, especially throughout the southern states.
Order 8802 could ban discriminatory employment practices by Federal agencies and all unions and companies engaged in war-related work, but it could not do away with racial discrimination.
Racism in the Military was a constant presence during World War II.
This touring exhibit “Fighting for the Right to Fight,” on loan from The National WWII Museum in New Orleans, honors heroic black men and women. It uses photographs, videos, news clippings and personal testimonies to highlight African-American determination, achievements and struggles as they fought for the right to fight during World War II.
“We have so much to learn from the bravery and determination of African Americans who chose to fight for the very freedoms denied to them,” said Mary Pat Higgins, Museum President & CEO. “Their sacrifices not only helped save the world from a terrible fate but helped lay the groundwork for the Civil Rights Movement at home.”
Located at 211 North Record Street in Dallas the museum will host the special gallery exhibit through January 26, 2018.
In addition to experiencing the touring exhibit, visitors will have the opportunity to view the museum’s permanent exhibit, dedicated to preserving the memory of the Holocaust, and to teaching the moral and ethical response to prejudice, hatred and indifference, for the benefit of all humanity.
Hours and admission fees can be found on the museum website. The museum is not recommended for children under 11 years of age.