When I first began work on this subject in 1968, there was surprisingly little material available in print. Filling the apparent gap led to the production of a PhD and ultimately to the first publication of this book. Even in those days a reader of the manuscript queried my use of 'Afro-American', claiming never to have heard the term. Today much has changed: African-American' is in general use and a student beginning research in this area would find not only my work, but books and journal articles by Richard Dalfiume, Russell Buchanan, Lee Finkle, Harvard Sitkoff, and others, not to mention the many chapters on the subject in general studies of American society in wartime. The publication of a new edition of my book enables me to take account of this extensive scholarship and provides an opportunity to reconsider some of my earlier conclusions. Fifty years after the event we are perhaps now better placed to arrive at an overall assessment of World War II's significance for black Americans.
The search for 'turning points' in history is a dangerous business. Writing in the 1960s and 1970S, when civil rights action and reform seemed to promise so much, it was easy to see the 1940S as the moment when positive change was set in motion. Now, when views of the sixties are more pessimistic and when the limits of reform are more apparent, it may seem necessary to qualify judgements on the importance of World War II. I have tried to do this in the Epilogue in which I summarise some of the more recent findings with updated bibliographic information in the footnotes.
The use of oral history must rank as one of the most important developments which have had an influence on the subject since 1973, and I have tried to incorporate some of the views of the participants in my summary. Overall, these expressions reinforce my original conclusion that the contribution by blacks to the war effort was considerable and that the war had an equally significant effect on African-Americans, at both a personal and a general level. Wartime social and economic changes certainly helped to