World War I


Question 2

World War I was a great trans formative period in the history of African-Americans and Mexicans in the United States. The war had great revolutionary implications for the economic, political, and social future of the black population. It directly impacted on the life of all African Americans and those of the Immigrant Mexicans. Military service, political protests, racial violence, and migration were the main experiences that these two groups of people went through. The black population dramatically contested the democracy of the United States and demanded for their rights as citizens of America. Recognizing the implications of World War I is necessary to developing a full understanding of the demographic composition and structure of modern America.

From the beginning of 1914, thousands of African Americans led a migration from the south to the north. Fundamentally, this migration transformed the cultural, political and social landscape of towns and cities in the North, such as New York, Chicago, Detroit and Cleveland. Initially, this migration was prompted by numerous social, political and economic challenges. A majority of African Americans and Mexicans living in the South lived in dire poverty. A weevil infestation during this period destroyed their farms and left them living in perpetual debt. These economic challenges were further worsened by political and social oppression.

Wartime opportunities in the urban North during this testing period gave these populations hope. The war resulted in immense growth and development of the American industrial economy. Many industries in America were prompted by the effects of World War I. Consequently, these industries were in need of labor and they turned to migrants from the south to fill the void. The prospect of improved working and living conditions through higher wages prompted many southerners to move to the north. Thousands abandoned their agricultural activities and moved to northern packinghouse, automobile and manufacturing industries.

This enormous demographic shift altered the history of African-Americans and Mexicans. The migration facilitated the onset of African-American expression in music and literature in 1920. A new sense of leadership emerged in the immigrant population in a bid to change the democratic rights of America. Leaders who believed that African Americans participation in the war, such as W.E. DuBois and Philip Randolph, emerged and made great contributions in motivating African Americans to change the racial climate in the United States. Basically, wartime activities played an important role in the emergence of increasing activism among segregated communities.

The experiences of World War I helped many migrants resist racial and social discrimination more aggressively at home. Many African Americans had received training on combat duty and were ready to sacrifice their experience for better living conditions and equal opportunities for all Americans. Soldiers that had visited countries such as France came back home with vigor and determination to end racial segregation back at home. Over time, members of segregated communities began to get nominations to important political and leadership offices throughout the country. The war helped the migrants build a new place for their people in public life. Basically, the implications of World War I played an important role in confronting the social, economic, and political challenges that faced American migrants.


Ellis, M. (2001). Race, war and surveillance Race: African Americans and the United States Government during World War I. Bloomington: Indiana University Press.



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