Detroit is Dynamite.
Life, August 17, 1942
Idealistic calls to patriotism, duty and
unity often clashed with the stress of daily life on the home front. Many
of the people working long hours in factories were new to Michigan, new to
the job and new to working together. The lockers in the Arsenal of
Democracy gallery hold the stories of individual Michigan workers in
Detroit and elsewhere.
Unions adopted nonstrike pledges, but
sometimes disputes over wages, production rates and promotions ended in
strikes and lockouts.
The increased population strained public
services. Traffic congestion and overcrowded housing created friction.
More than 60,000 African Americans migrated
to the Detroit area. Racial tension increased. On June 20, 1943, Detroit
exploded in a race riot that resulted in 1,893 arrests, 675 injuries and
45 deaths. Federal troops calmed the city within 24 hours. Afterwards,
several groups began to work for better race relations.
We were not only fighting battles as
soldiers. We were also fighting something called
"segregation," "separation," "apartness."
Captain Hondon Hargrove, Muskegon, MI
Black Michiganians, including Hargrove, who commanded a
battery of artillery in the 92nd Infantry (Buffalo) Division, served in
segregated units as they had in previous American wars. However, for the
first time, all branches of military service were opened to them.
Coleman Young (later mayor of Detroit) was among the
African-Americans who trained in Tuskegee, Alabama, to be pilots for the
Army Air Corps. Another Detroit Tuskegee airman, Henry Peoples, recalled,
We had two goals, to fly, and to prove we could. A lot of people
didn't think blacks could fly.