World War II and the Post War Years
As the United States entered World War II, the NAACP joined union organizer A. Philip Randolph in support of a massive March on Washington to protest discrimination in the armed forces and defense industries. The march never took place. In the midst of the war, NAACP Executive Secretary Walter White toured the European, Mediterranean, and Pacific Theaters of Operation to observe and report on the experience of black soldiers. In 1945 the NAACP sent Walter White and W. E. B. Du Bois to the United Nations Conference on International Organization to propose the abolition of the colonial system. Du Bois reinforced the NAACP’s position in 1947 by submitting to the United Nations “An Appeal to the World,” a petition linking the history of racism in America to the treatment of people of color under colonial imperialism. The following year, in response to NAACP pressure, President Harry Truman issued two executive orders banning discrimination in federal employment and armed forces. On the legal front, the Supreme Court handed the NAACP important victories against all-white voting primaries, segregation in interstate travel, and restrictive covenants in Smith v. Allwright, Morgan v. Virginia, and Shelley v. Kraemer.
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