For Black Americans World War II was about not only America’s standing in the world but also about how much actual freedom would exist in the United States. Black troops were at Normandy, Iwo Jima, and the Battle of the Bulge. They fought bravely in combat and they formed the backbone of the United States military’s supply effort, enabling the Allies to fight and win a global war. They did all of this while fighting in a segregated military. Black veterans returned from the war and kept fighting white supremacy at home, fueling the civil rights movement.
Drawing on his new book, Dartmouth historian Matthew Delmont explains how World War II raised questions regarding race and democracy that remain unanswered more than seventy years later. This is an inspiring history of bravery and patriotism in the face of unfathomable racism.
Dr. Matthew Delmont is the Frank J. Guarini Associate Dean of International Studies and Interdisciplinary Studies and the Sherman Fairchild Distinguished Professor of History at Dartmouth. An expert on African-American History and the history of Civil Rights, his new book, Half American: The Epic Story of African Americans Fighting World War II at Home and Abroad, was published by Viking Books in October 2022.
He is the author of four previous books: Black Quotidian: Everyday History in African American Newspapers (Stanford University Press, 2019); Making Roots: A Nation Captivated (University of California Press, 2016); Why Busing Failed: Race, Media, and the National Resistance to School Desegregation (UC Press, 2016); and The Nicest Kids in Town: American Bandstand, Rock 'n' Roll, and the Struggle for Civil Rights in 1950s Philadelphia (UC Press, 2012). He was awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship and National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) Public Scholar Award to support this research.