World War II revealed that African Americans are just as patriotic as the rest of America despite the types of treatment they were subjected to in every aspect of American life. The Jim Crow system of discriminatory practices had not prevented African Americans from defending their nation during wartime.

At the outbreak of World War II, 2.5 million Black men registered for the draft and one million served as draftees, or volunteers, in all of the branches of the of the Armed Forces during the actual conflict. Outside of replacing their male counterparts in industrial jobs at home, over 8,000 African American women served in roles in the Cadet Nurse Corps, Women’s Army Corps and the Navy WAVES (Women Accepted for Volunteer Emergency). With all of these African American men and women serving their country, the AFRO played a key role communicating roles African American played in the fight for freedom and the fight going on right at home.

Black newspapers circulation and distribution both did very well during wartime. The AFRO provided eyewitness accounts from the paper’s reporters stationed overseas. The AFRO editors and reporters back home were describing the social conditions back home for the troops overseas. This information is what African American men and women returning home from the war decided that they would not put up with any more social inequality and discrimination after just risking their lives for their country.

Shortly after the end of the war, President Truman’s Executive Order 9981 abolished discrimination within armed forces and it soon became evident that if they fought hard, protested long enough and some cases died for equal rights, true equality would come to them.

Some troops were not lucky enough to make it home, they were killed in combat. An unfortunate few were convicted and even executed for a crime. Louis Till, father of Emmett Till, met a fate eerily similar to his son. The senior Till would be hanged on July 2, 1945 in Italy for reportedly violating and killing White women. Contemporary researchers are not convinced of Louis Till’s guilt just as in the case of his son who certainly did not deserve the fate given to him.

The AFRO American Newspaper made sure to communicate the travesty of Emmett Till’s murder to its readers. Sending its reporters to Money, Mississippi to interview the Emmett Till family and the subsequent trial where Till’s murderers were tried and set free.

The Till coverage would set the tone for the AFRO during this period. The AFRO would publish press releases, pleas and open letters from concerned citizen committees about the violence perpetrated by police, teachers exhausted by overcrowding of Black schools and civil right leaders, local and national, needing to get the word out about their causes.

From Emmett Till, through the integration of Little Rock Central High School, University of Mississippi, and the breaking down of the segregation barriers in the interstate commerce of the southern states by the Freedom Riders, the civil rights battles of the 1950’s and 60’s were a series of violent wars that redefined the culture of these United States. As the age of Jim Crow was drawing to a close, the AFRO was there to report on its demise, as well as shed light on the next round of new tactical challenges confronting the Black community’s continuing quest for equality and justice.