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British Association for American Studies


Issue 11, Autumn 2007: Article 4


Issue 11, Autumn 2007: Article 4

U.S. Studies Online: The BAAS Postgraduate Journal

Issue 11, Autumn 2007

The Hollywood Front: The Battle Over Race in American Cinema during World War II

Jenny Woodley
© Jenny Woodley. All Rights Reserved

America’s involvement in the Second World War raised many questions about what the country was fighting for and what this meant for its own people. President Roosevelt spoke of fighting for the Four Freedoms: freedom of speech, freedom of religion, freedom from fear and freedom from want. Some Americans, however, believed the fight for such freedoms began at home. The image of America as a true democracy fighting tyranny did not ring entirely true for African Americans who still faced discrimination, segregation and a denial of full rights. Race, already a highly divisive issue in America, became increasingly important during the war. In fact, debate raged amongst African Americans about what part they should or could play in a war waged by a country which refused to accept them as full citizens. The question of what stake they had in society, and what society would offer them in return for their contributions, came to the fore.

The war had repercussions for all sections of American life, including the film industry. The government wanted Hollywood to use its films to spread the Allied message and to sooth black unrest. African Americans saw an opportunity for fairer and more positive depictions of the race in films. Thus, Hollywood became drawn into the government’s propaganda efforts and into the debate about race. With a war against Fascism raging overseas and a fight about equality simmering at home, during the early years of the 1940s the battle over what it meant to be black in America intensified.

African Americans have a long history of military service. From the American War of Independence through the Civil War to the conflicts of the twentieth-century, black men have fought and died for America. For many, this sacrifice was held up as proof of loyalty to the country and as a claim for equal citizenship. These claims, however, were usually ignored or betrayed. The experience of World War One, in particular, had left many feeling bitter and sceptical. Black contributions to the war effort had not been rewarded with greater rights, but rather with increased hostility and racial violence. America’s involvement in the Second World War thus presented a dilemma for black leaders: should they actively support the Allied effort in the hope of being rewarded with gains in civil rights or should they refuse to fight for a country which did not treat them as equals? Most African Americans reconciled these issues by supporting the ‘Double Victory’ campaign. A slogan coined by the Pittsburgh Courier, ‘Double Victory’ was a call for victory abroad and at home. It reflected the realisation of many blacks that the war provided an opportunity to press for improvements in race relations in America. The government needed their contributions to the war effort and in return they would demand changes at home. The majority of the black press and organisations such as the NAACP and the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters supported the campaign. In addition, many blacks shared an ideological belief in a war against Fascism and its racist dogma.

In the years before America entered the War, it had begun a programme of rearmament and military expansion. African American leaders wanted to ensure that blacks were included in these plans. In 1939 the Committee for the Participation of Negroes in National Defense was founded in Washington D.C., at the instigation of the Pittsburgh Courier and headed by historian Rayford W. Logan. Their campaign was based around claims for equal rights, as a Committee appeal demonstrates: ‘The War Department and the Navy Department plans for the coming war DEGRADE you. They would make war without you if they could. They would challenge your right to citizenship’.[1] Further pressure was placed on the government by a number of leading African American organisations. Walter White, Executive Secretary of the NAACP, A. Philip Randolph of the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters and T. Arnold Hill, acting secretary of the National Urban League, met with President Roosevelt in September 1940. They asked that African Americans, including black officers, been given equal opportunities and be allowed to serve in all branches, including the Army Air Corps, that black women be allowed to serve as nurses, and that ‘existing units of the Army and units to be established should be required to accept and select officers and enlisted personnel without regard to race’.[2]

Roosevelt agreed to consider their suggestions. However, the statement on military policy which he signed and released to the press on 9 October incorporated very few of them. It did promise the use of African Americans in the Army ‘on the basis of the proportion of the Negro population of the country’ and in ‘each major branch of the service, combatant as well as non-combatant’. However, there were significant restrictions. Black officers would only be assigned to all-black units and, more significantly, a general policy of segregation was to be maintained because it had ‘proved satisfactory over a long period of years’ and any changes ‘would produce situations destructive to morale and detrimental to the preparation for national defense’.[3] African Americans were angered by this continued discrimination and further concessions were offered, including the promotion of the first black general and the appointment of William Hastie as civilian aide to the Secretary of War.

Despite the promise that African Americans would be admitted to the Army on the basis of their proportion of the population (about ten percent) there was considerable reluctance amongst the forces to sign up the requisite numbers. Furthermore, black troops continued to be relegated to fulfilling supply roles wherever possible. This discrimination, alongside rigid segregation within the training camps and on the battlefields, caused deep resentment amongst many African Americans. As one angry soldier asked, ‘How can we be trained to protect America, which is called a free nation, when all around us rears the ugly head of segregation?’ Another expressed black awareness of the moral contradiction at the heart of their involvement in the war: ‘the cross-section of the Negro soldiers’ opinion here is that we had just as soon fight and die here for our rights as to do it on some foreign battlefield’.[4] Morale was extremely low amongst African American troops. This disillusionment with their exclusion from the war effort was seen in other areas of American life. There were protests about the exclusion of black workers from the war industries. A. Philip Randolph, with the support of other African American organisations, called for 10,000 African Americans to ‘March on Washington’ to ‘demand the right to work and fight for our country’.[5] Randolph succeeded in persuading Roosevelt to issue an Executive Order to end employment discrimination in defence industries, although the simultaneous demand for an end to discrimination in the armed forces was again ignored.

The government was aware of this disillusionment amongst many black Americans. A poll taken by a government agency produced ‘formidable evidence of the degree to which racial grievances have kept Negroes from an all-out participation in the war effort’.[6] Fearing the potentially damaging effects, it used its recently established propaganda tool, the Office of War Information (OWI), to try and limit the resentment. OWI, as with many other government agencies at the time, had a somewhat confusing bureaucratic history. It had its beginnings in the Office of Government Reports which was formed in 1939 and headed by Lowell Mellett. A number of other government propaganda and information agencies existed at this time and to simplify the situation the Office of Facts and Figures was established in 1941, with Archibald McLeish in charge. Mellett became coordinator of government films and in April 1942 he set up the Hollywood office, headed by Nelson Poynter, to liaise with the film industry on the West Coast. When the Office of War Information was created in June 1942, with radio presenter Elmer Davis at its head, Mellett’s film liaison office became the Bureau of Motion Pictures (BMP). The BMP’s responsibilities included releasing government shorts and Poynter’s office continued to be the main point of contact with Hollywood. The Executive Order establishing OWI stated the agency was:

to formulate and carry out, through the use of press, radio, motion picture, and other facilities, information programs designed to facilitate the development of an informed and intelligent understanding, at home and abroad, of the status and progress of the war effort and of the war policies, activities, and aims of the Government.[7]

As the creation of Mellett’s Bureau indicates, considerable emphasis was placed on the role films could play in this process. President Roosevelt called the motion picture ‘one of our most effective media in informing and entertaining our citizens’ and declared that it could make a ‘very useful contribution’ to the war effort.[8]

The Bureau of Motion Pictures attempted to persuade the film industry to use its movies to help win the war. After initial meetings with Hollywood executives Poynter assembled the ‘Government Information Manual for the Motion Picture Industry’, a handbook which outlined OWI’s attitude towards the war and explained how films were expected to reflect this. It asked filmmakers to consider several questions, including:

Will this picture help win the war?; What war information problem does it seek to clarify, dramatize or interpret?; Does it merely use the war as the basis for a profitable picture, contributing nothing of real significance to the war effort?; Does the picture tell the truth or will the young people of today have reason to say they were misled by propaganda?[9]

OWI acted in an advisory role, with most studios passing their scripts to Poynter’s office before they went into production. Poynter could then ask the studios to change aspects of the film he and his staff found unsuitable or he could offer suggestions for how it could help ‘win the war’. It was a case of persuasion rather than coercion, as OWI had no powers to force Hollywood to comply. Hollywood resented outside interference and was wary of being accused of making propaganda films. However, OWI’s links to the censors and overseas distribution agencies gave it some leverage. This, combined with a degree of patriotic and ideological belief in the war amongst studio executives and screenwriters, allowed OWI some influence on the films of the period.

One aspect with which OWI became increasingly concerned was the portrayal of African Americans in films. A study by the Bureau of Motion Pictures in 1943 of the depiction of blacks in wartime movies concluded that ‘in general, Negroes are presented as basically different from other people, as taking no relevant part in the life of the nation, as offering nothing, contributing nothing, expecting nothing’. African Americans appeared in twenty-three percent of the films released in 1942 and early 1943 and were shown as ‘clearly inferior’ in eighty-two percent of them.[10] The government realised that racial discrimination belied the claims of American democracy which the war was championing and that the negative images of blacks in movies were damaging to morale and therefore potentially damaging to the war effort. In March 1942 the Office of Facts and Figures called a conference of influential African Americans to develop ‘an information program which will deal with the wartime problem of Negro citizens’. Invited guests included representatives of the NAACP and the National Urban League, editors of black newspapers and church leaders. The attendees told the organisers that ‘they did not believe they could build any morale among their followers until the government took some definitive and important corrective action about the mistreatment of the Negro throughout the whole war effort’.[11] This was clearly beyond the scope of the government’s propaganda agencies, whose remit was more practical. Although there many liberals in its ranks who sympathised with the black cause, according to historian Allan Winkler, Elmer Davis tempered their ‘hopeful visions of the war’ with the ‘more utilitarian notions of the policy makers’.[12] This utilitarian approach was reflected in the desire to stress national unity and repress (racial) difference. Thus, OWI, with the assistance of Hollywood, tried to minimize the impact of race in the movies. The easiest way to do this was ‘writing-out’, in other words, ‘simply eliminating a potentially troublesome character’. It was better to have no black faces at all than to have ones which could offend and therefore damage morale. On the whole, Hollywood was happy to oblige: membership in the black actors’ union fell by fifty percent during the war, suggesting that opportunities for work were much reduced.[13] Some African American characters did appear and these were subject to considerable scrutiny, not only from the Bureau but also from black organisations and newspapers.

The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) was one group which was concerned about both African American involvement in the war and the portrayal of black people in motion pictures. The organisation, along with many other African Americans, realised that America’s involvement in a war against the doctrines of racial and ethnic superiority provided a unique opportunity to illustrate that the country was not fulfilling its promises at home. This realisation was also applied to the issue of motion picture representation: the NAACP seized the opportunity to demand an end to stereotypical black characters in Hollywood films, a battle it had been waging ever since the release of Birth of a Nation in 1915. The NAACP demanded first that blacks be admitted into the armed services and then that this contribution be recognised by America and represented through positive images in the media. The NAACP also called for more newsreel footage of black servicemen to be screened to civilian audiences. The hope was that white Americans could have no argument about giving black people the vote and a full stake in society if they had seen, both on the battlefield with their own eyes and on cinema screens back at home, African Americans fighting and dying for their (shared) country.

Walter White, the NAACP’s Executive Secretary, was the driving force behind this new campaign. In 1942 he made two trips to Hollywood. With the support of one time Presidential candidate and 20th Century Fox executive, Wendell Willkie, he was able to meet with studio heads, producers, directors and writers. He told a meeting of such influential persons that, ‘Restriction of Negroes to roles with rolling eyes, [and] chattering teeth […] or to portrayals of none-too-bright servants perpetuates a stereotype which is doing the Negro infinite harm’. He explained that ‘showing him always as a mentally inferior creature, lacking in ambition, is one of the reasons for the denial to the Negro of opportunities and for low morale’.[14] He managed to elicit promises from a number of studios that in future ‘Negroes be used in motion pictures in the same manner in which they occupy positions in life’.[15]

The NAACP, in much the same way as the Bureau of Motion Pictures, could hope only to persuade Hollywood to change its depiction of the race. It appealed to filmmakers’ sense of morals and duty, placing special emphasis on the role their films could have in helping the Allied war effort. Speaking before the Writers’ Congress in LA, White told the assembled scriptwriters, ‘now is the time for the creative artists of this nation to show the […] conquered countries that we in America do believe in and intend to practice the principles for which we are fighting this war’.[16] The NAACP monitored the results of its appeal, reviewing all films which included black characters or racial content. It published its appraisals in its monthly magazine, The Crisis, and filed press reports praising those it approved of and criticizing those it felt were detrimental to the race and the cause. White used all his contacts in Hollywood to try and exert as much pressure as possible, writing letters of protest whenever a questionable racial depiction was so much as hinted at. Assistant Secretary Roy Wilkins had recommended that the NAACP ‘be as helpful as possible’ to the Office of Facts and Figures (OWI’s predecessor) in ‘working out a procedure that will be mutually helpful to the country and to our race; for after all, we want to win this war’.[17] ‘[T]his war’, while clearly referring to the Second World War, could also be taken to mean the war over race which was being waged in America at the same time. The NAACP saw how the two were interlinked: the war against Fascism abroad opened up new fronts in the war against racism at home. One of these fronts was Hollywood and African Americans tried to make the most of the influence that the war was having on the film industry. As well as dealing directly with the studios, the NAACP liaised with the Office of War Information. White and his colleagues regularly wrote to Lowell Mellett’s office to complain of those films which would ‘do enormous injury to morale’.[18] In this way, they tried to harness any influence the government agencies had in order to further their own agenda in Hollywood.

A number of films were made during the war years which featured African Americans in a variety of settings, however, of most interest in this context are those which showed blacks in uniform. These films went to the heart of the debate about black involvement in the war and can be seen as a direct response to calls for films which would improve black morale. Three Hollywood-produced films, all made in 1943, provide examples of how the studios tackled the issue of African American contributions to the war: Crash Dive (20th Century Fox), Bataan (MGM) and Sahara (Columbia). Crash Dive featured an African American on a submarine who ‘joined his mates in their raid on the Germans, and ended the movie […] receiving a Navy Cross [and] an etiquette-breaking handshake from a white officer’. [19] Walter White, perhaps optimistically, believed that the film was a result of his and Willkie’s lobbying of the film industry, writing ‘that if nothing else comes out of our two trips to Hollywood the time and money were well spent. […] I believe the film is going to do a lot of good’. [20]

In Bataan, the small patrol bravely holding up the Japanese advancement in the Philippines included a black character, Wesley Epps. Again, Walter White was able to exert some influence on the racial content of the film. The studio heeded his demands that the black soldier remain in the picture, after rumours had reached him that the character was to be dropped. Epps, played by Kenneth Spencer, dies as heroic a death as any of his white comrades. It was certainly a breakthrough role, an image of a black man dying for his country. Nevertheless, some of the old stereotypes remained. Epps is training to be a preacher and is the one called upon to pray over the bodies. In most of his scenes he is humming and with his upper torso exposed (admittedly it is hot in the Pacific, but Epps is the only character who is half naked and the inference of the ‘savage’ black man in the jungle is hard to ignore). These factors, combined with a relative lack of dialogue, subtly serve to make the character less developed and dignified than the others. Nevertheless, the NAACP praised it and White gave a quote to be used in the film’s publicity. He used the opportunity to stress once again the higher purpose of the war and its application at home: ‘[It] gives those at home a needed brutal picture of what war really is; and shows how superfluous racial and religious prejudice are when common danger is faced. May we learn, too, how dangerous and divisive prejudices are before we lose here the liberty fighting men died for on Bataan’.[21]

In Sahara, moreover, Rex Ingram, an African American actor, plays a British Sudanese Sergeant who joins Humphrey Bogart’s rag-tag patrol laying siege to the Germans in the desert. The only racism Sergeant Tambul faces is from the Nazi prisoner, thus equating racism exclusively with Nazism. He is a valuable member of the crew because he can direct them to a waterhole and is respected by the rest of the men. His death is one of the most dramatic and heroic: he chases and kills the escaping German prisoner before being shot himself. He is filmed running through a hail of bullets and as he finally collapses to the ground he raises his thumb to his comrades. Such an image of black heroism was unusual for the films of the period. However, it is worth noting that Tambul was an African-British not an African American character. Therefore it was saluting Africa’s role in the war rather than a comment on African American sacrifices. Nevertheless, the NAACP was induced to commend Columbia Pictures for Ingram’s role, declaring it the ‘outstanding contribution’ toward the objective of improving roles for blacks.[22] It is interesting that the NAACP praised all three of these films. What they have in common is a heroic black character who represented a break from the stereotype of the comic or servant figure. They were examples of loyal black citizens who made great sacrifices for the Allied cause. Furthermore, they provided a showcase for talented black actors such as Rex Ingram and Kenneth Spencer.

In contrast, Canada Lee’s role as Joe Spencer in Lifeboat (1944, Twentieth Century Fox), was a disappointment to the NAACP. Joe was a steward (a historically accurate portrayal as this was the only position blacks were allowed to fill in the Navy in the first years of the war) amongst a group of survivors drifting on a lifeboat after their ship is sunk by the Nazis. An NAACP staff member reported:

the role was a sop, a weak gesture. Absolutely the best that can be said is that it represents some slight departure from the harsher techniques of the conventional stereotypes… [Joe] spoke generally only when spoken to, behaving generally after the manner of a steerage passenger rather than an equally beset participant in a grim struggle for survival.[23]

For the NAACP simply having a black face in the film was not enough. They had to be an integral part of the action and represent the best elements of the black war effort.

Lifeboat, despite its flaws, appears to have been a genuine attempt to include a black character in a realistic way. (Wilkins received an angry reply to his letter of protest from Jason Joy at Fox, defending the studio’s use of African American characters.) An example of a production which could not even claim this limited ambition was Warner Brother’s cartoon short Coal Black and de Sebben Dwarfs. Offensive on many levels, the most disheartening aspect of this cartoon, released in 1943, was the caricature of the seven dwarfs as black soldiers. African American soldiers who were being asked to fight for their country must have been sickened and angered when they looked back home and found themselves portrayed as Sleepy, Dopey and Grumpy. As an NAACP reviewer wrote, ‘the segregation and indignities to which colored soldiers are subjected is in itself damaging to national unity. That they should also be held up for derision by theater-goers is inexcusable’.[24] The cartoon served as a reminder that the black soldier, like the rest of his race, was still vulnerable to ridicule and humiliation.

The government only had limited influence on the studios and films such as Coal Black suggested that Hollywood had not fully embraced the calls for racial sensitivity. Office of War Information officials realised that if they wanted a propaganda film doing properly they had better do it themselves. The result was 1944’s The Negro Soldier, a documentary about black contributions to American wars. Using a mixture of newsreel footage, reconstructions and staged scenes, the film provided a unique picture of blacks in American wars, from the Revolution through the Civil War and the First World War up to the present conflict. It was the first time that black men and women in uniform had appeared on the screen in such numbers. They were shown in training, on the battlefield, with airplanes and on ships. Originally produced as a training film to improve racial harmony within the services, pressure from black organisations led to it being distributed in public theatres. Langston Hughes called it ‘the most remarkable Negro film ever flashed on an American screen’.[25] Walter White said it was ‘an extraordinary documentary picture which will do much to stimulate the morale of American Negroes and to educate white Americans regarding Negroes’.[26] The Negro Soldier unquestionably provided the most positive depictions of African Americans during the War. Its positive message was embraced by most of the servicemen who watched its preview. The majority of the audience (which was composed of 439 black and 510 white soldiers) praised the film. Only 3 percent of blacks felt it was untrue and only 4 percent of whites agreed. The black soldiers ‘thought that the film over-glamorized the treatment they received in the Army and their role in it’, while the whites thought that ‘it exaggerated the importance of the Negro soldier, showed too close contact between Negroes and whites, and suggested too ideal a picture of Negro treatment by the whites’.[27]

The black soldiers who felt that The Negro Soldier ‘over-glamorized’ their treatment in the Army were correct. The film showed a racially harmonious armed service, based on the doctrine of separate but equal, in which African Americans were given the same level of training and opportunities as their white contemporaries. However, the reality was a collection of marginalised black units which faced prejudice from Army officials, were given inadequate training and restricted opportunities for promotion, and for the most part were limited, at least until 1944, to service or labour duties. Crash Dive, Sahara and Bataan painted a similarly unrealistic picture, showing the war as an arena where men of all races fought and died alongside one another. In reality segregation meant that units were divided along racial lines. In 1943 there was no possibility of Hollywood featuring all black units in its productions because it knew that such films would not sell. If there were to be any black faces in war films, as OWI and African Americans demanded, then they would have to appear in historically inaccurate inter-racial groups. Equally unrealistic was the fact that these groups were pictures of racial harmony. There were no examples of the overt racism which clearly existed in the Army. It would not be until 1949’s Home of the Brave that the impact of racial discrimination on black soldiers would be openly discussed. In this way, Hollywood, with the encouragement of OWI, tried to play down race as an issue. OWI adopted what Deputy Director George Barnes described as ‘a direct and powerful Negro propaganda effort as distinct from a crusade for Negro rights’.[28] None of the black characters in these films demanded anything from their country in return for their sacrifices. There was no mention of a ‘Double Victory’, no calls for fairer treatment of troops or equality back home.

For a brief moment the aims of the NAACP, the government and Hollywood coincided. The NAACP wanted improvements in the racial situation and greater opportunities in all areas of American life, from the army through to the film industry. The government wanted black morale to be bolstered in order to strengthen the war effort. Hollywood was motivated by profit and therefore was happy to produce films with nominal references to Allied war aims if it eased distribution and to include images of heroic (white or black) Americans if they were popular with audiences. The result was a handful of films which imparted ideological arguments against the intolerance of the Axis and included black actors in more dignified roles as integrated servicemen. Perhaps more significantly, the discourse around race in America widened as African Americans became more vocal in their demands for a greater stake in society and fairer representations of the race in the media. However, in the end it became clear that the aims of the NAACP, the government and Hollywood were essentially incongruous. The NAACP wanted real change for African Americans, whereas the Office of War Information wanted to change the image, not the reality, and Hollywood was only interested in the image if it would sell. Walter White and his organisation saw improved representations as part of a wider struggle for full equality. It was only one part of their battle. They believed that if white America’s perception of blacks could be altered then they might be more willing to accept greater civil rights and were never going to be silenced by marginally improved roles for a handful of black actors.

Whilst the NAACP was pleased with some of the changes enacted by the film industry it was ultimately disappointed by a missed opportunity to make substantive and lasting changes to how blacks were portrayed. A Columbia University study conducted in 1945 found that of one hundred black appearances in wartime films, seventy-five perpetuated old stereotypes, thirteen were neutral, and only twelve were positive.[29] In the post-War years there were some improvements in roles for black actors, with films such as Intruder in the Dust (1949) and No Way Out (1950) dealing explicitly with racial issues and including more fully developed and dignified characters. These developments were partly a result of the pressure that the African Americans were able to exert on Hollywood during the war. It is, however, depressing to note that Hollywood continues the practice of ‘writing-out’ when it comes to the contribution of blacks in the Second World War. Clint Eastwood’s recent film, Flags of our Fathers (2006), about the raising of the flag on Iowa Jima does not include any black faces, despite the fact that almost nine hundred African Americans took part in the battle. Black veterans said that whilst saddened and angered by this latest omission, after sixty years of being written out of war films they were not surprised.[30]

It would be misleading, however, to conclude on such a negative note, because this period proved to be an important point in the continuing formation of race consciousness. In the context of a war against Fascism and intolerance the question of race pushed its way to the forefront of American consciousness during and after the War. African Americans returning from Europe and the Pacific became increasingly unwilling to accept the discrimination which awaited them. The fight over race in films was one example in a larger battle over the meaning of what it meant to be black in America, a battle which within a decade had exploded into a full blown war for civil rights.

University of Nottingham


[1] Neil A. Wynn, The Afro-American and the Second World War (London: Paul Elek, 1976), p. 22.

[2] Ibid., p. 23.

[3] Ibid., p. 23.

[4] Richard Dalfiume, Desegregation of the United States Armed Forces. Fighting on Two Fronts, 1939-1953 (Columbia: University of Missouri Press, 1969), p. 74.

[5] Wynn, p. 43.

[6] Clayton R. Koppes and Gregory D. Black, ‘Blacks, Loyalty and Motion-Picture Propaganda in World War II’, Journal of American History, 73.2 (1986), 383-406 (p. 385).

[7] Allan M. Winkler, The Politics of Propaganda: the Office of War Information, 1942-1945 (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1978), p. 34.

[8] Ibid., p. 57.

[9] Clayton R. Koppes and Gregory D. Black, Hollywood Goes to War: How Politics, Profits and Propaganda Shaped World War II Movies (London: I.B. Tauris and Co., 1987), p. 66.

[10] Ibid., p. 179.

[11] Papers of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, Library of Congress [NAACP LC] Part II A, Box 461.

[12] Winkler, p. 36.

[13] Koppes and Black, Hollywood Goes to War, pp.179-180.

[14] Press Release, 27 July 1942. NAACP LC: Part II A Box 275.

[15] Letter from E.J. Mannix, to Office of Darryl Zanuck, 21 July 1942. NAACP LC: Part II A Box 275.

[16] Clipping from Daily News, 30 September 1943. NAACP: Part II A Box 277.

[17] Memorandum from Roy Wilkins to Walter White, 23 March 1942. NAACP LC: Part II A Box 461.

[18] Walter White to Lowell Mellet, 17 August 1942. NAACP LC: Part II A Box 277.

[19] Thomas Cripps, Making Movies Black: The Hollywood Message Movie from World War II to the Civil Rights Era (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1993), p. 76.

[20] Walter White to Wendell Willkie 17 April 1943. NAACP LC: Part II A Box 275.

[21] NAACP LC: Part II A Box 275.

[22] Press release, 1 February 1944. NAACP LC: Part II A Box 275.

[23] Quoted in letter Roy Wilkins to William Goetz, 17 February 1944. NAACP LC: Part II A Box 275.

[24] Memorandum by Julia Baxter (16 April). Quoted in letter Walter White to Harry Warner, 28 April 1943. NAACP LC: Part II A Box 275.

[25] ‘Here’s a Film Everyone Should See, Writes Defender Columnist’, Chicago Defender, 26 February 1944.

[26] Report of Secretary for May 1944 Meeting of Board of Directors. NAACP LC: Part II A Box 144.

[27] Wynn, p. 30.

[28] Koppes and Black, ‘Blacks, Loyalty and Motion-Picture Propaganda in World War II’, p. 389.

[29] Koppes and Black, Hollywood Goes to War, p. 184.

[30] ‘Where have all the black soldiers gone?’, Dan Glaister, The Guardian, 21 October 2006.