The riotous home front : contested racial spaces in World War II Los Angeles, Detroit, and Harlem

Esmacher, Melissa Ann
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[Honolulu] : [University of Hawaii at Manoa], [May 2013]
During the summer of 1943, a series of race riots exploded across the United States, with the three largest riots taking place in Los Angeles, Detroit, and Harlem. The intent of this dissertation is to explore the meaning of this wave of riots by placing them in multiple contexts--within their specific contested urban spaces of racial discord, within their racially charged and migration-spurred neighborhood borderlands, and within their temporal and spatial placement in the home front of World War II. The examination of prewar conditions in Los Angeles, Detroit, and Harlem that led to the riots serves to illustrate the deep roots of racial discord in the United States. The riots themselves serve as a transition between race riots as vigilante white mob violence in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries and race riots as a form of protest by urban minorities against white hegemony in the late twentieth century. The 1943 riots served as catalysts for a discussion of the issue of racism in the United States that painted America's race problem as one of white racism against minorities instead of the mere existence of minorities, but this discussion became subsumed at the end of the war by both a reconversion to prewar attitudes on race and a shift in American priorities outward toward the burgeoning cold war. This dissertation concludes that the riots served as an important episode not only on the American home front during World War II, but also in the longer history of race, racial violence, and protest in the twentieth century.
Ph.D. University of Hawaii at Manoa 2013.
Includes bibliographical references.
race riots
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