Central Historical Question: In what ways did African-American women help achieve a “Double Victory” in World War II?
This lesson is designed to be taught in conjunction with a unit on World War II. It specifically focuses on the role of women, particularly African American women, in helping secure a victory for the Allies in World War II and overcoming discrimination on the home front. The role of these women was often overlooked during the war years and forgotten by later generations. This lesson brings to light the stories of women such as Betty Murphy Phillips (the only black female overseas war correspondent) and Deverne Calloway (a Red Cross worker who led a protest at an army base in India). Students will examine various documents related to the struggle and triumphs of women during the War. They will be asked to analyze the documents and formulate a historical opinion about the ways in which African-American women helped achieve a “double victory” in World War II.
Common Core ELA Literacy Standard in History/Social Studies
RH. 11-12.2- Determine the central ideas or information of a primary or secondary source; provide an accurate summary that makes clear the relationships among the key details and ideas.
United States History Content Standard (National Center for History in the Schools)
Era 8:Standard 3C- The student understands the effects of World War II at home and therefore is able to evaluate how minorities organized to gain access to wartime jobs and how they confronted wartime discrimination.
PowerPoint: Primary vs. Secondary Sources (attached)
Video: African Americans in World War II- A Legacy of Patriotism and Valor http://www.tubechop.com/watch/1807350 short version or http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lpB50XquSNA long version.
Open PowerPoint: Double Victory.
Ask students to observe the image on slide 1. This is the “hook” activity to get students thinking and formulating questions about the role of, and contribution of, African-American women during the War. Don’t tell students what the image is. Instead ask students some of the following questions about the image:
What do you observe in the image?
When do you think this image was taken?
Where do you think this image was taken?
What do you think the women is doing in this image?
What does this image say about World War II?
What do you think this image represents?
What do you think this image has to do with our lesson today?
Introduce lesson to students. Tell them they are going to be exploring the role of African-American women in World War II. Introduce the historical question- In what ways did African American help achieve a “double victory” in World War II? Ask if any students know what “double victory” might mean. If no one knows, that’s okay. Tell students that they are going to look at a variety of documents about African-American women during World War II and through the document analysis will uncover the meaning of “double victory.”
As a class read Document: Textbook Excerpt.This is an excerpt from a standard US History textbook. Discuss some of the following:
What does this excerpt say about the role of women during the War?
This excerpt represents most of the information presented in a standard textbook about the role of women in WWII. Why do you think that is?
What does the excerpt not say? Is there information that is missing? Why or why not?
Tell students that they are now going to look at four documents that relate to African-Americans in World War II. If you have not already spent time talking to students about the differences between primary and secondary sources and how to analyze them go to PowerPoint: Primary vs. Secondary Sources. If students are well versed in the use of primary and secondary sources proceed with the lesson. First, give students Handout: A Guide to Annotating Primary Sources. Go through at least one document together as a class and model how to annotate primary sources. Practice “think alouds” with students so that they can “see” how you would analyze the primary source. Explicitly show your historical thinking skills. As you are doing this, complete the portion of the graphic organizer that goes along with the document you are analyzing together. Show students how to cite information from documents.
Break students into groups of 3-4. Pass out rest of Documents A-D and Graphic Organizer: Double Victory.
Give students 20-30 minutes to annotate documents and complete graphic organizer.
Come back together and ask students what they think is meant by “double victory.”
Ask each group to share out what they learned from analyzing documents.
Open PowerPoint: Double Victory. Go through the images on slides 3-8. Ask students to think about what these images say about the contribution of African-American women during the War. Discuss. Have them record this on their graphic organizer.
Next, show students the short video clip that is on slide 9 of PowerPoint: Double Victory.Discuss. Ask students to add to their understanding of the contributions of women during WWII after viewing the clip. Have students record this on their graphic organizer.
Finally, ask students to think about all of the pieces of evidence they analyzed. Ask them to think about how this evidence can help them answer the lesson’s historical question- In what ways did African-American women help achieve a “Double Victory” in World War II? Ask students to do a 2-3 paragraph quickwrite over the historical question. Demonstrate that they must cite evidence from the documents, images, or video clip in their quickwrite to support their rationale.
Mullenbach, Cheryl. Double Victory: How African American Women Broke Race and Gender Barriers to Help Win World War II. Chicago: Chicago Review Press, 2013. Print.
"The Coming of War." United States History. Upper Saddle River: Prentice Hall/Pearson, 2013. 792,810. Print.
Exec. Order No. 8802, 3 C.F.R. (1941). Print. http://www.ourdocuments.gov/doc.php?flash=true&doc=72&page=transcript
"St. Louis War Plants Defiant Tell FEPC They Won't Hire Colored Women." Baltimore Afro American 12 Aug. 1944: 11. Google News Archive. Web. 4 Jan. 2014.
… Over 350,000 women also responded to the call. In 1941, Congresswoman Edith Nourse Rogers introduced a bill to establish a Women’s Army Auxiliary Corps- which became the Women’s Army Corps (WAC) in 1943- to provide clerical workers, truck drivers, instructors, and lab technicians for the United States Army. More than 150,000 women volunteered for the service; 15,000 served abroad over the course of the war and over 600 received medals for their service. More than 57,000 nurses served in the Army Nurse Corps, putting themselves in danger to care for the wounded in Europe and the Pacific.
… Many African American leaders hoped the war might provide jobs and alleviate their dismal economic situations. However, few found meaningful employment with national defense employers. Out of 100,000 Americans working in the aircraft industry in 1940, only 240 were African Americans. Even jobs provided by the government and military remained segregated.
Source'>Source: "The Coming of War." United States History. Prentice Hall
WHEREAS it is the policy of the United States to encourage full participation in the national defense program by all citizens of the United States, regardless of race, creed, color, or national origin, in the firm belief that the democratic way of life within the Nation can be defended successfully only with the help and support of all groups within its borders; and
WHEREAS there is evidence that available and needed workers have been barred from employment in industries engaged in defense production solely because of considerations of race, creed, color, or national origin, to the detriment of workers' morale and of national unity:...
And it is hereby ordered as follows:
1. All departments and agencies of the Government of the United States concerned with vocational and training programs for defense production shall take special measures appropriate to assure that such programs are administered without discrimination because of race, creed, color, or national origin;
2. All contracting agencies of the Government of the United States shall include in all defense contracts hereafter negotiated by them a provision obligating the contractor not to discriminate against any worker because of race, creed, color, or national origin;...
June 25, 1941
Source: Executive Order No. 8802, Franklin Roosevelt (1941)
Document B: Double Victory Campaign Poster
Source: The Pittsburgh Courier (February 7, 1942
Document C: St. Louis War Plants Defiant, Tell FEPC They Won’t Hire Colored Women
Lack of Federal Funding to Compel Race Hating Management to Keep Contracts Features 2-Day Hearing WHAT: FEPC (President’s Fair Employment Practice Committee) hearings
WHERE: St. Louis, Missouri
WHEN: August 1 and 2
RESULTS: Three plants including Ameriorp Corp., Bussman Mfg. Co., Wagner Electric Co,- cited for refusing to hire colored women, remained defiant. Four other plants… were charged with refusing to hire colored women or upgrade colored men workers. U.S. Cartridge Co., said it would not end jim crow building, and status of colored workers.
FEPC has no power, save publicity to compel war plants to obey the president’s executive orders outlawing discrimination in employment. Every war plant with government orders has a signed contract with the government that it will hire qualified people regardless of race, color, and creed.
But when race hating plant managements refuse to keep their word, the government doesn’t stop payments on the contracts. It permits the race haters to keep right on breaking their government contracts with impunity. The following are excerpts from testimony as recorded by the AFROs B.M. Phillips.
...MISS Catherine Berry
Applied March 1944 for a job as a machine operator in answer in a newspaper ad and was told there were no openings. Studied lathe operation at Washington Technical High and worked six months at US Cartridge Co., but was laid off on account of work shortage.
MISTER TRIMBLE: Did the company hire anyone after you applied?
MISS Berry: There were several men and women in the office who appeared to be in the process of getting jobs and the ad continued to run.
CHARLES HOUSTON FEPC Member: Would you have taken any job the company had open?
MISS BERRY: Yes, I even applied for messenger job.
Q: Are you employed now?
Source: Baltimore Afro-American Newspaper, August 12, 1944 http://news.google.com/newspapers?id=G2pGAAAAIBAJ&sjid=d-UMAAAAIBAJ&pg=1391%2C3769358, pg. 11
Document D: Double Victory Book Excerpt
… In 1943 an East Coast war plant explained its racist position on hiring black women. The statement represented a common belief that many white people had about black people at the time: black people are dirty. Representatives of the plan stated that black women who had applied for jobs could not be hired because the work required “handling of small mechanisms.” And the women were rejected because they “all had sweaty hands.”... Colored women just do not have the native intelligence necessary to do highly skilled work.
...Women used signs to call attention to their cause. As they silently walked back and forth in front of the stores where they were refused service they carried big signs:
“Why can’t I eat here?” “What does democracy mean to you?” “A Nazi’s bullet knows no prejudice.” “My mother services, my brother serves, may I be served?”
In the Military
The army nurses who comprised the first unit of black nurses in Europe did not receive the most prized assignment. They had been sent to England to relieve a unit of white nurses who had been caring for Nazi prisoners of war. It was not a duty most American nurses cherished. While it was a responsibility of all nurses to tend to the wounded and help them recover, it was difficult to show compassion for the very men who had wounded and even killed American soldiers. And some black citizens in America believed that the black nurses had been assigned to prisoner of war hospitals intentionally- to keep them from serving where they would treat white American soldiers.
Source: Double Victory: How African-American Women Broke Race and Gender Barriers to Help Win World War II, Cheryl Mullenbach
Graphic Organizer: Double Victory
Central Historical Question: In what ways did African-American women help achieve a “Double Victory” in World War II?
What does this say about African-American women during WWII?
Summary of Document
What does this document tell you about African- American women during WWII?
Double Victory Campaign Poster
Double Victory Book Excerpts
Double Victory Images
What does this say about the contribution of African-American women during WWII?
Quickwrite: In 2-3 paragraphs, cite specific evidence from the documents to identify and evaluate the way women helped achieve a “double victory” in World War II?