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The Struggle for Equality

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The struggle for freedom and equality after World War II continued endlessly for women and minorities. No class of people experienced more change as a consequence of the war than American women. During the war over six million women took jobs, increasing the size of the female labor force by 57 percent.Wages leaped upward, the number of wives holding jobs doubled, and the unionization of women grew fourfold(pg.11). Government and mass media encouraged women to enter the workforce to replace men who had gone off to fight war. Women resp ded to the labor crisis with skill and ingenuity. Women maintained road beds, greased locomotives, and took the place of lumberjacks toppling giant redwoods. Those who took over th epolice radio in Montgomery County, Maryland to the two thousand volunteers who helped to save a million gallon strawverry crop in Tennessee. This newfound employement status gave women a sense of independence. A Women's Buereau survey of ten areas showed that 75 percent of the women who had taken jobs whised to continue working (pg 28. Some observers feared that, as a consequence of wartime changes, the institution of the family would be threatened. The socialist, Willard Waller charged that women had "gotten out of hand" during the war with the result, that the very survival of the home was in danger. The belief that a woman's place was in the hone was questioned by some millions of women across the nation.

The fight for new social reform and equality also surrounde black Americans. During the war black protest has achieved new levels of militancy with the riots that escalated in Detroit. War had provided a forge within which anger and outrage long suppressed, were seeking new expression. Black veterans, before they even took off their uniforms headed for the voter registration office at the county courthouse. Cities like Winston-Salem, Greensboro, and Atlanta even witnessed the building of black political machines which chose candidates to run for citywide office. In 1946 more than 18,000 blacks registered to vote in Atlanta (pg 86). In Winston-Salem 3,000 new black voters helped to choose the first black alderman in that city's history in 1947. Although this success in the voting polls proved to p rogress the black vote, an overwhelming number of blacks were being killed and deterred from the voting polls. In facing these political aversions, black protest mounted. Locan NAACP chapters tripled in number, while national membership increased 900 percent to over 500,000 people (pg 21). Roy Wilkins of the NAACP returned from a visit to North Carolina declaring the Negros are organizing all over the state to secure their rights. "They are not frightened". In Washington D.C. an interracial group of students began to sit-in at resaurants and pick angainst segreation. Although these sit-ins proved to be effective in raising the awareness of racial inequality, positive changes in social reform would not come without years of escalating violence.

No group had greated reasonfor optimism at the end of the war

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