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Returning Home

The civil rights movement in the US gained a new impetus as hundreds of thousands black servicemen who served in Europe during WWII, discovered that racial discrimination was not as oppressive in countries such as the UK and France. Many realised that the US could and should be a land free of racial discrimination. In 1948, President Harry Truman signed the Executive Order to desegregate the US armed forces.

The Servicemen’s Readjustment Act 1944 (known as the GI Bill) allowed sweeping benefits for veterans including college tuition, low cost mortgages and loans. Although the Bill did not exclude African Americans, its structure to allow state administration enabled southern states to enforce the Jim Crow laws through its delivery. Black veterans had trouble securing its benefits and were ultimately excluded from the prosperity of the post war boom. (Read more at

As a result of their experiences in WWII and the subsequent inequality of the benefits of the GI Bill, many African Americans created a more widespread and organised civil rights movement, resulting in the eventual removal of Jim Crow laws in 1964. We would like to think that the experiences of these black servicemen in Suffolk contributed to their commitment to bring about changes back home.

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