Historical Data on Racial Strife in the U.S. Military

Christopher Blair (Politics), Spring 2023

In this project, we examine how wartime experiences shape the political behavior of veterans from marginalized groups. We explore this question in the context of the WWII-era United States. We study how experiences in uniform during WWII impacted Black veteran's political and social activities in the subsequent decades. Specifically, we investigate the impact of race riots, racially-motivated crimes, and race-based military reforms on the postwar political behavior of Black veterans. To do so, we assemble previously-unused archival records of racial strife between troops, and corrective actions taken by the U.S. military during WWII. The end product of this project will be a series of papers examining the impact of Army reforms designed to mitigate racial tension on Black soldiers' commitment to non-violent, postwar civil rights activism. The project will also contribute to dissemination of knowledge by producing two original datasets: (1) a comprehensive record of racial strife, including crimes and riots, between U.S. soldiers during WWII; and (2) a comprehensive database of reforms undertaken by U.S. military planners during WWII in order to avert or mitigate racial tensions between troops, commanders, and local civilians around Army bases.