Still working on it

“The war was a potent catalyst for change across the republic. New technologies—jets, computers, ballistic missiles, penicillin—soon spurred vibrant new industries, which in turn encouraged the migration of black workers from south to north, and of all peoples to the emerging west. The GI Bill put millions of soldiers into college classrooms, spurring unprecedented social mobility. Nineteen million American women had entered the workplace by war’s end; although they quickly reverted to traditional antebellum roles—the percentage working in 1947 was hardly higher than it had been in 1940—that genie would not remain back in the bottle forever. The modest experiment in racially integrating infantry battalions ended when the war did, despite nearly universal agreement that black riflemen had performed ably and in harmony with their white comrades. A presidential order in 1948 would be required to desegregate the military, and much more than that would be needed to reverse three centuries of racial oppression in America. But tectonic plates had begun to shift. ‘Glad to be home,’ a black soldier from Chicago observed as his troopship sailed into New York harbor. ‘Proud of my country, as irregular as it is. Determined it could be better.’ ” – Rick Atkinson, The Guns at Last Light

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