Date of Award

Fall 12-20-2014

Degree Type

Thesis

Degree Name

MA History

Department

History

Advisor

Larry Greene, Ph.D

Committee Member

Dermot Quinn, Ph.D

Keywords

African American, Media, World War II, Newspapers/Press, Race Riots, Race Relations

Abstract

My thesis examines the New York City press’ interpretation of African Americans and the Civil Rights movement of World War II. I seek to determine in what measure the press reported on African Americans in the military and at home during the war including segregation of the Armed Forces, and the riots of 1943. Through examining the white and black media’s perception of these events I hope to elucidate how the press wrote about the topic of race during the period and if there was any change in their reporting on race due to the war. Although addressed marginally in the context of African American history I believe this to be an underwritten facet in the fields of African American and World War II history as well as the history of the press. I pursued my study through researching publications of the period including the New York Times, the New York Herald Tribune, the New York Age, and others in the microfilm archives. I also consulted such works as Nat Brandt’s Harlem at War: The Black Experience in WWII for an understanding of the setting as well as Patrick Washburn’s The African American Newspaper: Voice of Freedom. My work has shown that the war did provide an impetus for a slight change within the city’s reporting of African Americans, taking a less biased tone and placing stories concerning African Americans in a more prominent capacity. The war thrust a number of stories concerning African Americans that the press could report under the banner of war in addition to the race factor which was not deemed a selling point. Black citizens went from being barely mentioned except in cases of criminal acts and musicians to being written about as warriors and patriots.

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