American Labor in the Era of World War II

By Sally M. Miller; Daniel A. Cornford | Go to book overview

9
Catalyst for Change: Wartime Housing and African-Americans in California's East Bay

Delores Nason McBroome

Between World Wars I and II, African-Americans sought avenues for creating a political and economic voice in the white-dominated society of California's East Bay. The African-American population by 1940 in the combined East Bay cities -- Oakland, Berkeley, and Richmond -- totalled over 12,000. World War II dramatically increased that populafntion to over 70,000. 1 In addition, the pressures of a swollen black population increased consciousness among the East Bay's black residents of discriminatory housing policies that severely constrained their ability to compete successfully for living quarters. In 1940, defense industries located in the Bay Area acted as magnets, drawing racial and ethnic minorities discouraged by the lack of employment opportunities elsewhere in the country. Although housing shortages for the East Bay's African-American population existed long before World War II, the urgent demands that both black residents and newcomers migrating for defense work after 1940 made upon housing created a climate for change in the East Bay's residential policies. The conclusion of World War II, however, did not bring about resolutions to the housing problems African-Americans faced as a result of de facto discrimination. In the postwar years, African-Americans in California's East Bay mounted a legislative campaign, finally resulting in the 1963 Rumford Fair Housing

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