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Fighting for Hope

, 352 pages

11 halftones

December 2010



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Fighting for Hope

African American Troops of the 93rd Infantry Division in World War II and Postwar America

This fascinating history shows how African-American military men and women seized their dignity through barracks culture and community politics during and after World War II.

Drawing on oral testimony, unpublished correspondence, archival records, memoirs, and diaries, Robert F. Jefferson explores the curious contradiction of war-effort idealism and entrenched discrimination through the experiences of the 93rd Infantry Division. Led by white officers and presumably unable to fight—and with the army taking great pains to regulate contact between black soldiers and local women—the division was largely relegated to support roles during the advance on the Philippines, seeing action only later in the war when U.S. officials found it unavoidable.

Jefferson discusses racial policy within the War Department, examines the lives and morale of black GIs and their families, documents the debate over the deployment of black troops, and focuses on how the soldiers’ wartime experiences reshaped their perspectives on race and citizenship in America. He finds in these men and their families incredible resilience in the face of racism at war and at home and shows how their hopes for the future provided a blueprint for America’s postwar civil rights struggles.

Integrating social history and civil rights movement studies, Fighting for Hope examines the ways in which political meaning and identity were reflected in the aspirations of these black GIs and their role in transforming the face of America.

Robert F. Jefferson is an associate professor of history and director of the African American Studies Program at the University of Alabama at Birmingham.

"An important and timely book, especially given the recent historic changes in the American political scene."

"Robert F. Jefferson provides a complex and nuanced—yet highly readable—account of the African American soldiers who served in the all-black and segregated U.S. Army's 93rd Infantry Division... A marvelous book."

"Jefferson's Fighting for Hope is a rigorously researched, richly etched re-creation of the formation of the all-black Ninety-third Infantry Division, which fought in the Pacific theater."

"Well-written work."

" Fighting for Hope provides an immensely useful model for not only historians, but also political scientists studying how race, war, and culture shaped the lives of African Americans in the early twentieth century. For students of black military history, this book is a must read."

"An invaluable contribution to military history, African American history, and American social history."

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