World War II

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We Can Do It! Poster (1942)

"We Can Do It" Propaganda Poster

The “We can do it” propaganda poster was created by J. Howard Miller in 1942. The poster was originally created for the Westinghouse Electric & Manufacturing Company and was placed in their factories. The poster soon became a famous symbol during WWII for women in the workforce and is still one of the most famous pieces of war propaganda in the United States. In the poster is the famous figure Rosie the Riveter. Rosie the Riveter was a symbol of women strength and power as before World War II women were regarded as stay at home wives, where they took care of the house and children. But as the number of American men overseas began to rise, factories in the United States couldn’t produce fast enough. This is when American women took charge of those jobs and help the Allies win the War. This poster represents the change in women’s social role during WWII, and it foreshadows how women’s social role changed after WWII.


A Mass Protest March Letter (1941)

"A Mass Protest March" letter from A. Philip Randolph to Walter White

In this letter, labor leader A. Philip Randolph wrote to Walter White suggesting for a march on Washington. The reason for this was to protest against the discrimination in the US defense agencies and military. Randolph sent this letter on March 18, 1941. This letter served its purpose as later in June of that year (1941), Randolph and White met with President Franklin Roosevelt and other high ranking government officials to threaten them with a March on Washington. Randolph and White succeeded when President Roosevelt signed and established EO 8802 which banned all discrimination in US defense agencies and the military. This letter demonstrates the background work of an important U.S. order that helped in sparking the Civil Rights Movement after the war. 


Executive Order 8802 (1941)

EO 8802 President Franklin Roosevelt

This document is Executive Order (EO) 8802. It was created by President Franklin Roosevelt in June of 1941 in Washington DC. The intention of this executive order was to ban all discriminatory employment practices by federal agencies and companies involved in war-related work (WWII). This EO was a huge win for civil rights activists during this time because it was the first time that African American men were seen as equal to white men in the military. After the Allies won the war, African American men had to go back into American civilian life where they were still discriminated against in everyday life. Though this EO was only affecting the defense section of the federal government, this EO helped spark the civil rights movement of the 60s. The U.S. document demonstrates a time before the civil rights movement where African American men found themselves equal to white men. But after the war, life in American society went back to normalcy (segregation and discrimination).