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"Dear Mr. President", Interviews with African Americans on World War II (January or February 1942) (1)

These radio interviews were conducted with African-Americans in the months following the attack on Pearl Harbor. As you listen to the interviews, consider how the speakers balance their desire to fight for their country, and the reality of their treatment in a segregated and discriminatory society.


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Unidentified Man: Well, Mr. Gilchreist. Don't you think that the spirit that is demonstrated as to the treatment of Negroes now right in the southland can foster fertile ground for the various isms that are. And don't you think that if the higher-ups would do all that was in their power to get those people in the South, with which we have to live, to work along with us and become neighborly and more brotherly, that we could and would feel more disposed to do our upmost towards winning the war?

Mr. Gilchreist: I hardly agree with you there. I agree with you, but yet we, as I foresaid, we've got to fight. Now the happening in Missouri the other day that didn't do any good for the cause. They took a Negro out and lynched him. It looked like just now that they would be trying to do all they could to bring about better race relations. And I hate to see such things because I want us to win and I'm behind it. And even though that happened that don't change my mind any. I'm still behind it, but that puts a lot of people against it. I mean a lot of men that was speaking kind of in favor of it, colored people, they says "See there, that's just like -- they done started and the war ain't over yet." And they go ahead and tell about instances that happened before in a town down south when a Negro came back home and they ran him off to [square (?)]. Told him to get home and pull that uniform on. No Negro could wear the United States uniform in that town, even though he'd been overseas and fought and bled for us.

Unidentified man: And speaking of incidents that happened that probably poisoned the minds of people. While quite a small child standing in front of the capital in the state of Tennessee, I saw an Armistice Day parade in 1919 in which all of the ROTCs of the various white schools -- of course we had no ROTC in the Negro schools in Nashville -- marched right up the streets with the soldiers who had been abroad and had a big welcome sign on the streets of Nashville welcoming the soldiers back home. When the Negro soldiers got to this welcoming sign they were asked to turn to their right and go down a block and come around. They weren't allowed to come under the sign. Now that thing stayed with me a long time, but it hasn't dampened my spirit to the extent that I don't want to do what I can for the betterment of my country during this crisis. But I do feel, as Mr. Thomas feels, that every effort should be made on the part of the higher-ups in the white race to get the Negro to cooperate a hundred percent. Even those who have been poisoned as I was when I was a small child.

Unidentified Man: Mr. Beesley, I want to ask you this. What's the attitude of the young high school boys toward the war? Are they anxious to go to war and get in the civilian industries?

Leslie W. Beesley: The majority of the boys ??? the army, but for some reason they want to go into the navy. And it has been my policy to tell them that if they wanted to give service to the country, by all means go into the armed forces in the army rather than into the navy, because so much discrimination is shown in the navy and they weren't allowed to progress.

"Dear Mr. President", Interviews with African Americans on World War II (January or February 1942) (2)

These radio interviews were conducted with African-Americans in the months following the attack on Pearl Harbor. As you listen to the interviews, consider how the speakers balance their desire to fight for their country, and the reality of their treatment in a segregated and discriminatory society.


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Lewis Jones: Well, I think that some things are getting better and we're getting some friends aware of the fact that we should all work together and that our productive plant and our army have all got to require every citizen of the country. And the thing that we are having trouble with now is making the folks let us do our part to defend our country. Course I find that the labor groups are getting better. I mean, I am a delegate to the Central Trades Council, Nashville, and last week the Trades Council voted with only one dissenting vote to give Negroes defense training here in the city. While we have some trouble with the school officials in getting it through, but I think it's very interesting to notice some gains, particularly in the ranks of AF of L where people have been discriminated against in the labor movement.

Harold Thomas: Mr. Jones, right here I would like to say that there has been quite a bit of progress along this line. I recall when the president's executive order came out ordering all industrialists to disregard color and race in the hiring of their employees, but since that time some of them have assumed a less belligerent attitude. At one time, although the contractors in this immediate community would not hire these colored carpenters, contractors have been working down at Tullahoma, Tennessee did take all the men we had. But they were not men right of Nashville here, but from further south down in Atlanta, Georgia.

Mr. Gilchreist: Well, I think to just tell them, Mr. President, just to tell the labor heads alone that they must not discriminate is not enough. I think you'll have to do something about it. Although the Negroes are going to fight, I know that, they talk a lot about what they ain't going to do, but when the time comes you can always depend on them. But I do think that you could ease the strain a lot by putting in some kind of method whereby you could force these people that's making the money from the government by making airplanes and different things to give these Negroes a job. They have an airplane plant here, and they don't have any help out there at all that is colored with the exception of toilet attendants. They have about four, maybe eight that work in the toilets and that's as far as they can go. And it's not that Negroes aren't able to do it, but they just can't do it. They won't hire them if they're colored.

Unidentified man: Mr. Gilchreist, this is the first time I really agreed with you and I think that brings back the point of the tense, and that is the present tense. And we want that now, we can't wait until the war is over to say to the higher officials who are in charge at the present to see that Negroes get a share, a equal chance, to work in these plants and to do their bit. So now, why not see to it that we do get the place in the said jobs.

Unidentified Man: In all fairness, I would like to say that there's not much that the Negro can do in a plant such as a Vultee Aircraft Plant because first of all he isn't given the training thereby he'd be able to do the work. What I am strongly for is to give the Negro a chance to learn these trades where he will be of some service in these plants. And what we need in Nashville, most of all, and throughout the South, are defense schools where we can get these boys and, these boys the training for this type of work. And naturally we have a white school, but they have to beg for it to take the trade. But if you offered it to Negro I'm sure they'd be run over with Negroes there attempting to learn to do these types of work where they can make salaries in these defense plants.

"Freedom Road" (1944)

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This song was written by Langston Hughes (lyrics) and Emerson Harper (music) and sung by Josh White. It combined, as so many African American songs and speeches did, encouragement for fight for democracy abroad and an appeal for interracial democracy at home.


That's why I'm marching, yes, I'm marching,
Marching down freedom's road.
Ain't nobody gonna stop me, nobody gonna keep me,
From marching down freedom's road.

Hand me my gun, let the bugle blow loud,
I'm on my way with my head a-proud,
One objective I've got in view,
Is to keep a hold of freedom for me and you.

That's why I'm marching, yes, I'm marching,
Marching down freedom's road.
Ain't nobody gonna stop me, nobody gonna keep me,
From marching down freedom's road.

Ought to be plain as the nose on your face,
There's room in this plan for every race,
Some folk think that freedom just ain't right,
Those are the very people I want to fight.

That's why I'm marching, yes, I'm marching,
Marching down freedom's road.
Ain't nobody gonna stop me, nobody gonna keep me,
From marching down freedom's road.

Now, Hitler may rant, Hirohito may rave,
I'm going after freedom if it leads me to my grave.
That's why I'm marching, yes, I'm marching,
I'm marching down freedom's road.

United we stand, divided we fall,
Let's make this land safe for one and all.
I've got a message, and you know it's right,
Black and white together unite and fight.

That's why I'm marching, yes, I'm marching,
Marching down freedom's road.
Ain't no fascists gonna stop me, no Nazis gonna keep me,
From marching down freedom's road.


"Freedom Road" by Josh White from the recording entitled That's Why We're Marching: World War II and the American Folksong Movement, SF40021, provided courtesy of Smithsonian Folkways Recordings. (p) © 1996. Used by Permission.

"The Martins and the Coys" (1944)

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This song was written by the Almanac Singers and performed by the Union Boys. It tells the story of two feuding families who give up their feud for the duration of the war, and end up overseas "fighting side by side for liberty!"


Now good people, this all points a lesson,
See what the Martins and the Coys agreed to do,
they have given up their feudin' for another kind of shootin'
and if they can do it, I guess that we can too.

Oh the Martins and the Coys, they are reckless mountain boys,
they'd take up family feudin' when they'd meet,
But now for the duration they have changed their occupation,
And their fighting side by side ‘til Hitler's beat.


"The Martins and the Coys" by The Union Boys from the recording entitled That's Why We're Marching: World War II and the American Folksong Movement, SF40021, provided courtesy of Smithsonian Folkways Recordings. (p) © 1996. Used by Permission.

"What Are We Waitin' On?" (1944)

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This song was written and sung by the folksinger Woody Guthrie. It represents an appeal on behalf of a union of free people to join the struggle for liberty on behalf of others:


I could see all the people in this whole wide world,
That's the union that'll tear old Hilter down.
That's the union that'll tear the fascists down.

When I think of the men and the ships going down
While the Russians fight on across the dawn
There's London in ruins and Paris in chains
Good people, what are we waitin' on?
Good people what are we waitin' on?


"What Are We Waiting On?" by Woody Guthrie from the recording entitled That's Why We're Marching: World War II and the American Folksong Movement, SF40021, provided courtesy of Smithsonian Folkways Recordings. (p) © 1996. Used by Permission.

Jimmy Longhi Story (1944)

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In this excerpt, Jimmy Longhi tells a story of how Woody Guthrie sings with a group of African American sailors in a segregated mess hall on the ship. The folk artist had been huddled below decks with the crew and, to break the nervous tension, had just gotten them singing. During a break in the music, he heard gospel singing from elsewhere in the ship. He sought out the sound and discovered the African American sailors gathered in the head, or latrine, end of the ship. Guthrie joined them in song and refused to return to the white performance without them. The Colonel resisted, but acquiesced when someone suggested that the African American singers were technically part of Guthrie's act. While the naval policy of segregation remained in place, Guthrie and the sailors singing of "the whole world free" as this segregated Merchant Marine ship steered into battle were part of a rising chorus of voices for a victory against racism at home as well as abroad.


"Jimmy Longhi Story" by Vincent "Jimmy" Longhi from the recording entitled That's Why We're Marching: World War II and the American Folksong Movement, SF40021, provided courtesy of Smithsonian Folkways Recordings. (p) © 1996. Used by Permission.

Four Freedoms Speech, Roosevelt's Annual Message (1941)

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A speech by Franklin Roosevelt in which he outlined the Four Freedoms at stake in World War II on the occassion of his annual message to Congress, January 6, 1941.


THE FOUR FREEDOMS

Mr. Speaker, members of the 77th Congress :

I address you, the members of this new Congress, at a moment unprecedented in the history of the union. I use the word "unprecedented" because at no previous time has American security been as seriously threatened from without as it is today.

Since the permanent formation of our government under the Constitution in 1789, most of the periods of crisis in our history have related to our domestic affairs. And, fortunately, only one of these --the four-year war between the States --ever threatened our national unity. Today, thank God, 130,000,000 Americans in forty-eight States have forgotten points of the compass in our national unity.

It is true that prior to 1914 the United States often has been disturbed by events in other continents. We have even engaged in two wars with European nations and in a number of undeclared wars in the West Indies, in the Mediterranean and in the Pacific, for the maintenance of American rights and for the Principles of peaceful commerce. But in no case has a serious threat been raised against our national safety or our continued independence.

What I seek to convey is the historic truth that the United States as a nation has at all times maintained opposition --clear, definite opposition-- to any attempt to lock us in behind an ancient Chinese wall while the procession of civilization went past. Today, thinking of our children and of their children, we oppose enforced isolation for ourselves or for any other part of the Americas.

That determination of ours, extending over all these years, was proved, for example, in the early days during the quarter century of wars following the French Revolution.

While the Napoleonic struggle did threaten interests of the United States because of the French foothold in the West Indies and in Louisiana, and while we engaged in the War of 1812 to vindicate our right to peaceful trade, it is nevertheless clear that neither France nor Great Britain nor any other nation was aiming at domination of the whole world.

And in like fashion, from 1815 to 1914 --ninety-nine years --no single war in Europe or in Asia constituted a real threat against our future or against the future of any other American nation.

Except in the Maximilian interlude in Mexico, no foreign power sought to establish itself in this hemisphere. And the strength of the British fleet in the Atlantic has been a friendly strength; it is still a friendly strength.

Even when the World War broke out in 1941 it seemed to contain only small threat of danger to our own American future. But as time went on, as we remember, the American people began to visualize what the downfall of democratic nations might mean to our own democracy.

We need not overemphasize imperfections in the peace of Versailles. We need not harp on failure of the democracies to deal with problems of world reconstruction. We should remember that the peace of 1919 was far less unjust than the kind of pacification which began even before Munich, and which is being carried on under the new order of tyranny that seeks to spread over every continent today. The American people have unalterably set their faces against that tyranny.

I suppose that every realist knows that the democratic way of life is at this moment being directly assailed in every part of the world --assailed either by arms or by secret spreading of poisionous propaganda by those who seek to destroy unity and promote discord in nations that are still at peace. During sixteen long months this assault has blotted out the whole pattern of democratic life in an appalling number of independent nations, great and small. And the assailants are still on the march, threatening other nations, great and small.

Therefore, as your President, performing my constitutional duty to "give to the Congress information of the state of the union," I find it unhappily necessary to report that the future and the safety of our country and of our democracy are overwhelmingly involved in events far beyond our borders.

Armed defense of democratic existence is now being gallantly waged in four continents. If that defense fails, all the population and all the resources of Europe and Asia, Africa and Australia will be dominated by conquerors. And let us remember that the total of those populations in those four continents, the total of those populations and their resources greatly exceeds the sum total of the population and the resources of the whole of the Western Hemisphere--yes, many times over.

In times like these it is immature-- and, incidentally, untrue-- for anybody to brag that an unprepared America, single-handed and with one hand tied behind its back, can hold off the whole world.

No realistic American can expect from a dictator's peace international generosity, or return of true independence, or world disarmament, or freedom of expression, or freedom of religion-- or even good business.

Such a peace would bring no security for us or for our neighbors. "Those who would give up essential liberty to purchase a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety."

As a nation we may take pride in the fact that we are soft-hearted; but we cannot afford to be soft-headed. We must always be wary of those who with sounding brass and a tinkling cymbal preach the "ism" of appeasement.

We must especially beware of that small group of selfish men who would clip the wings of the American eagle in order to feather their own nests.

I have recently pointed out how quickly the tempo of modern warfare could bring into our very midst the physical attack which we must eventually expect if the dictator nation win this war.

There is much loose talk of our immunity from immediate and direct invasion from across the seas. Obviously, as long as the British Navy retains its power, no such danger exists. Even if there were no British Navy, it is not probable that any enemy would be stupid enough to attack us by landing troops in the United States from across thousands of miles of ocean, until it had acquired strategic bases from which to operate.

But we learn much from the lessons of the past years in Europe-- particularly the lesson of Norway, whose essential seaports were captured by treachery and surprise built up over a series of years.

The first phase of the invasion of this hemisphere would not be the landing of regular troops. The necessary strategic points would be occupied by secret agents and by their dupes-- and great numbers of them are already here and in Latin America.

As long as the aggressor nations maintain the offensive they, not we, will choose the time and the place and the method of their attack. And that is why the future of all the American Republics is today in serious danger.

And that is why this Annual Message to the Congress is unique in our history.

That is why every member of the executive branch of the government and every member of the Congress face great responsibility-- great accountability.

The need of the moment is that our actions and our policy should be devoted primarily-- almost exclusively-- to meeting this foreign peril. For all our domestic problems are now a part of the great emergency.

Just as our national policy in internal affairs has been based upon a decent respect for the rights and the dignity of all of our fellow men within our gates, so our national policy in foreign affairs has been based on a decent respect for the rights and the dignity of all nations, large and small. And the justice of morality must and will win in the end.

Our national policy is this :

First, by an impressive expression of the public will and without regard to partisanship, we are committed to all-inclusive national defense.

Second, by an impressive expression of the public will and without regard to partisanship, we are committed to full support of all those resolute people everywhere who are resisting aggression and are thereby keeping war away from our hemisphere. By this support we express our determination that the democratic cause shall prevail, and we strengthen the defense and the security of our own nation.

Third, by an impressive expression of the public will and without regard to partisanship, we are committed to the proposition that principle of morality and considerations for our own security will never permit us to acquiesce in a peace dictated by aggressors and sponsored by appeasers. We know that enduring peace cannot be bought at the cost of other people's freedom.

In the recent national election there was no substantial difference between the two great parties in respect to that national policy. No issue was fought out on the line before the American electorate. And today it is abundantly evident that American citizens everywhere are demanding and supporting speedy and complete action in recognition of obvious danger.

Therefore, the immediate need is a swift and driving increase in our armament production.

Leaders of industry and labor have responded to our summons. Goals of speed have been set. In some cases these goals are being reached ahead of time. In some cases we are on schedule; in other cases there are slight but not serious delays. And in some cases-- and, I am sorry to say, very important cases-- we are all concerned by the slowness of the accomplishment of our plans.

The Army and Navy, however, have made substantial progress during the past year. Actual experience is improving and speeding up our methods of production with every passing day. And today's best is not good enough for tomorrow.

I am not satisfied with the progress thus far made. The men in charge of the program represent the best in training, in ability and in patriotism. They are not satisfied with the progress thus far made. None of us will be satisfied until the job is done.

No matter whether the original goal was set too high or too low, our objective is quicker and better results.

To give you two illustrations :

We are behind schedule in turning out finished airplanes.

We are working day and night to solve the innumerable problems and to catch up. We are ahead of schedule in building warships, but we are working to get even further ahead of that schedule. To change a whole nation from a basis of peacetime production of implements of peace to a basis of wartime production of implements of war is no small task. The greatest difficulty comes at the beginning of the program, when new tools, new plant facilities, new assembly lines, new shipways must first be constructed before the actual material begins to flow steadily and speedily from them.

The Congress of course, must rightly keep itself informed at all times of the progress of the program. However, there is certain information, as the Congress itself will readily recognize, which, in the interests of our own security and those of the nations that we are supporting, must of needs be kept in confidence.

New circumstances are constantly begetting new needs for our safety. I shall ask this Congress for greatly increased new appropriations and authorizations to carry on what we have begun.

I also ask this Congress for authority and for funds sufficient to manufacture additional munitions and war supplies of many kinds, to be turned over to those nationswhich are now in actual war with aggressor nations.

Our most useful and immediate role is to act as an arsenal for them as well as for ourselves. They do not need manpower, but they do need billions of dollars' worth of the weapons of defense.

The time is near when they will not be able to pay for them all in ready cash. We cannot, and we will not, tell them that they must surrender merely because of present inability to pay for the weapons which we know they must have.

I do not recommend that we make them a loan of dollars with which to pay for these weapons-- a loan to be repaid in dollars.

I recommend that we make it possible for those nations to continue to obtain war materials in the United States, fitting their orders into our own program. And nearly all of their material would, if the time ever came, be useful in our own defense.

Taking counsel of expert military and naval authorities, considering what is best for our own security, we are free to decide how much should be kept here and how much should be sent abroad to our friends who, by their determined and heroic resistance, are giving us time in which to make ready our own defense.

For what we send abroad we shall be repaid, repaid within a reasonable time following the close of hostilities, repaid in similar materials, or at our option in other goods of many kinds which they can produce and which we need.

Let us say to the democracies : "We Americans are vitally concerned in your defense of freedom. We are putting forth our energies, our resources and our organizing powers to give you the strength to regain and maintain a free world. We shall send you in ever-increasing numbers, ships, planes, tanks, guns. That is our purpose and our pledge."

In fulfillment of this purpose we will not be intimidated by the threats of dictators that they will regard as a breach of international law or as an act of war our aid to the democracies which dare to resist their aggression. Such aid is not an act of war, even if a dictator should unilaterally proclaim it so to be.

And when the dictators --if the dictators-- are ready to make war upon us, they will not wait for an act of war on our part. They did not wait for Norway or Belgium or the Netherlands to commit an act of war.

Their only interest is in a new one-way international law which lacks mutuality in its observance and therefore becomes an instrument of oppression.

The happiness of future generations of Americans may well depend on how effective and how immediate we can make our aid felt. No one can tell the exact character of the emergency situations that we may be called upon to meet. The nation's hands must not be tied when the nation's life is in danger.

Yes, and we must prepare, all of us prepare, to make the sacrifices that the emergency --almost as serious as war itself-- demands. Whatever stands in the way of speed and efficiency in defense, in defense preparations at any time, must give way to the national need.

A free nation has the right to expect full cooperation from all groups. A free nation has the right to look to the leaders of business, of labor and of agriculture to take the lead in stimulating effort, not among other groups but within their own groups.

The best way of dealing with the few slackers or trouble-makers in our midst is, first, to shame them by patriotic example, and if that fails, to use the sovereignty of government to save government.

As men do not live by bread alone, they do not fight by armaments alone. Those who man our defenses and those behind them who build our defenses must have the stamina and the courage which come from unashakeable belief in the manner of life which they are defending. The mighty action that we are calling for cannot be based on a disregard of all the things worth fighting for.

The nation takes great satisfaction and much strength from the things which have been done to make its people conscious of their individual stake in the preservation of democratic life in America. Those things have toughened the fiber of our people, have renewed their faith and strengthened their devotion to the institutions we make ready to protect.

Certainly this is no time for any of us to stop thinking about the social and economic problems which are the root cause of the social revolution which is today a supreme factor in the world.

For there is nothing mysterious about the foundations of a healthy and strong democracy.

The basic things expected by our people of their political and economic systems are simple. They are:

Equality of opportunity for youth and for others.

Jobs for those who can work.

Security for those who need it.

The ending of special privilege for the few.

The preservation of civil liberties for all.

The enjoyment of the fruits of scientific progress in a wider and constantly rising standard of living.

These are the simple, the basic things that must never be lost sight of in the turmoil and unbelievable complexity of our modern world.

The inner and abiding straight of our economic and political systems is dependent upon the degree to which they fulfill these expectations.

Many subjects connected with our social economy call for immediate improvement.

As examples :

We should bring more citizens under the coverage of old-age pensions and unemployment insurance.

We should widen the opportunities for adequate medical care.

We should plan a better system by which persons deserving or needing gainful employment may obtain it.

I have called for personal sacrifice, and I am assured of the willingness of almost all Americans to respond to that call.

A part of the sacrifice means the payment of more money in taxes. In my budget message I will recommend that a greater portion of this great defense program be paid for from taxation than we are paying for today. No person should try, or be allowed to get rich out of the program, and the principle of tax payments in accordance with ability to pay should be constantly before our eyes to guide our legislation.

If the congress maintains these principles the voters, putting patriotism ahead pocketbooks, will give you their applause.

In the future days which we seek to make secure, we look forward to a world founded upon four essential human freedoms.

The first is freedom of speech and expression --everywhere in the world.

The second is freedom of every person to worship God in his own way-- everywhere in the world.

The third is freedom from want, which, translated into world terms, means economic understandings which will secure to every nation a healthy peacetime life for its inhabitants --everywhere in the world.

The fourth is freedom from fear, which, translated into world terms, means a world-wide reduction of armaments to such a point and in such a thorough fashion that no nation will be in a position to commit an act of physical aggression against any neighbor --anywhere in the wold.

That is no vision of a distant millennium. It is a definite basis for a kind of world attainable in our own time and generation. That kind of world is the very antithesis of the so-called "new order" of tyranny which the dictators seek to create with the crash of a bomb.

To that new order we oppose the greater conception --the moral order. A good society is able to face schemes of world domination and foreign revolutions alike without fear. Since the beginning of our American history we have been engaged in change, in a perpetual, peaceful revolution, a revolution which goes on steadily, quietly, adjusting itself to changing conditions without the concentration camp or the quicklime in the ditch. The world order which we seek is the cooperation of free countries, working together in a friendly, civilized society.

This nation has placed its destiny in the hands, heads and hearts of its millions of free men and women, and its faith in freedom under the guidance of God. Freedom means the supremacy of human rights everywhere. Our support goes to those who struggle to gain those rights and keep them. Our strength is our unity of purpose. To that high concept there can be no end save victory.

From Justice Robert H. Jackson, Dissent in Korematsu v. United States (1944)

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Korematsu was born on our soil, of parents born in Japan. The Constitution makes him a citizen of the United States by nativity and a citizen of California by residence. No claim is made that he is not loyal to this country.... Korematsu, however, has been convicted of an act not commonly a crime. It consists merely of being present in the state whereof he is a citizen, near the place where he was born, and where all his life he has lived....

Even more unusual is the series of military orders which made this conduct a crime.... They were so drawn that the only way Korematsu could avoid violation was to give himself up to the military authority. This meant submission to custody, examination, and transportation out of the territory, to be followed by indefinite confinement in detention camps....

If any fundamental assumption underlies our system, it is that guilt is personal and not inheritable.... Once a judicial opinion rationalizes such an order to show that it conforms to the Constitution, or rather rationalizes the Constitution to show that the Constitution sanctions such an order, the Court has for all time validated the principle of racial discrimination in criminal procedure and of transplanting American citizens. The principle then lies about like a loaded weapon ready for the hand of any authority that can bring forward a plausible claim of an urgent need.... The courts... must abide by the Constitution, or they cease to be civil courts and become instruments of military policy.

Hazel Thomas Interview (April 2001)

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Upon graduating from high school, Thomas became a welder and helped to build B-25 bombers at plants in Kansas City and Missouri. Recorded at Lakeview Village retirement community, Lenexa, Kansas, in April 2001.

Hazel Thomas Interview (April 2001); Experiencing War: Stories from the Veterans History Project, American Folklife Center, Library of Congress. Used by permission of Hazel Thomas.

Manpower (1942)

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Film about the need for workers, including women, to fill wartime labor needs. Advertises training opportunities, job benefits, and the importance of contribution to the war effort.

This film advertised the need for workers, including women, to fill "manpower" shortages during World War II. The producers emphasized the training opportunities, job benefits, and the patriotic duty of contributing to the war effort. As you view the film, consider whether this is a realistic picture of the wartime plants? What federal initiatives had to be put in place to ensure some of the benefits shown in the film? How might such wartime service have changed the lives of the women shown in this film?