Cover for SHOCKLEY: We, Too, Are Americans: African American Women in Detroit and Richmond, 1940-54. Click for larger image

"We, Too, Are Americans"

African American Women in Detroit and Richmond, 1940-54

How African American women used their wartime contributions to push for increased rights

During World War II, factories across America retooled for wartime production, and unprecedented labor opportunities opened up for women and minorities. In We, Too, Are Americans, Megan Taylor Shockley examines the experiences of the African American women who worked in two capitals of industry--Detroit, Michigan, and Richmond, Virginia--during the war and the decade that followed it, making a compelling case for viewing World War II as the crucible of the civil rights movement.

As demands on them intensified, the women working to provide American troops with clothing, medical supplies, and other services became increasingly aware of their key role in the war effort. A considerable number of the African Americans among them began to use their indispensability to leverage demands for equal employment, welfare and citizenship benefits, fair treatment, good working conditions, and other considerations previously denied them.

Shockley shows that as these women strove to redefine citizenship, backing up their claims to equality with lawsuits, sit-ins, and other forms of activism, they were forging tools that civil rights activists would continue to use in the years to come.


"An excellent, long overdue look into African American women's resistance to racist employers, domestic work, racist/gender stereotypes, moderate civil rights organizations, and bureaucratic state agencies."--Labor Studies Journal

"Shockley amply demonstrates that African American women, regardless of class, together contributed a profound sense of miltancy and urgency to the emerging civil rights movement."--The Journal of Southern History

"Recognizes women in World War II and the early Cold War for their participation in civil rights actions and their expansion of the themes of democracy and a 'Double Victory' for rights at home and abroad, , , , A valuable resource for the interpretation of civil rights in this period [and] supports the view that this period was most important as an attitudinal crucible of the civil rights movement."--Journal of American History

"Fascinating, well-written, and convincing, Shockley's impressive study fills a significant gap in the historical literature."--Gretchen Lemke-Santangelo, author of Abiding Courage: African American Migrant Women in the East Bay Community


Megan Taylor-Shockley is a professor of history at Clemson University. She is the author of The Captain’s Widow of Sandwich: Self-Invention and the Life of Hannah Rebecca Burgess, 1834-1917.

To order online:
//www.press.uillinois.edu/books/catalog/47wgp5xc9780252028632.html

To order by phone:
(800) 621-2736 (USA/Canada)
(773) 702-7000 (International)

Related Titles

previous book next book
Fannie Barrier Williams - Cover
Fannie Barrier Williams

Crossing the Borders of Region and Race

Wanda A. Hendricks

Sex, Sickness, and Slavery - Cover
Sex, Sickness, and Slavery

Illness in the Antebellum South

Marli F. Weiner

Crime and Punishment in the Jim Crow South - Cover
Crime and Punishment in the Jim Crow South

Edited by Amy Louise Wood and Natalie J. Ring

Hillbilly Hellraisers - Cover
Hillbilly Hellraisers

Federal Power and Populist Defiance in the Ozarks

J. Blake Perkins

Leaders of Their Race - Cover
Leaders of Their Race

Educating Black and White Women in the New South

Sarah H. Case

Asian Americans in Dixie - Cover
Asian Americans in Dixie

Race and Migration in the South

Edited by Khyati Y. Joshi and Jigna Desai

Ghost of the Ozarks - Cover
Ghost of the Ozarks

Murder and Memory in the Upland South

Brooks Blevins

A History of the Ozarks, Volume 1 - Cover
A History of the Ozarks, Volume 1

The Old Ozarks

Brooks Blevins

The Roots of Rough Justice - Cover
The Roots of Rough Justice

Origins of American Lynching

Michael J. Pfeifer

Women of the Storm - Cover
Women of the Storm

Civic Activism after Hurricane Katrina

Emmanuel David

Shelter from the Machine - Cover
Shelter from the Machine

Homesteaders in the Age of Capitalism

Jason G. Strange

Southern Single Blessedness - Cover
Southern Single Blessedness

Unmarried Women in the Urban South, 1800-1865

Christine Jacobson Carter

Reading, Writing, and Segregation - Cover
Reading, Writing, and Segregation

A Century of Black Women Teachers in Nashville

Sonya Ramsey

“Swing the Sickle for the Harvest Is Ripe” - Cover
“Swing the Sickle for the Harvest Is Ripe”

Gender and Slavery in Antebellum Georgia

Daina Ramey Berry

Cajun Women and Mardi Gras - Cover
Cajun Women and Mardi Gras

Reading the Rules Backward

Carolyn E. Ware

A History of the Ozarks, Volume 2 - Cover
A History of the Ozarks, Volume 2

The Conflicted Ozarks

Brooks Blevins