The National Archives at Boston

Featured Documents of the Month from the National Archives at Boston

First Predominately Negro Ship Commissioned, U.S.S. Mason, at the Boston Navy Yard.

First Predominately Negro Ship Commissioned, U.S.S. Mason, at the Boston Navy Yard.
Record Group 181: Records of Naval Districts and Shore Establishments, 1784 - 2000; National Archives at Boston. National Archives Identifier 4700166.

This photograph depicts two African American sailors standing in front of the U. S. S. Mason, on which all the enlisted personnel were African American, at the Boston Navy Yard.

During World War II, racial restriction and segregation were facts of life in the U.S. military. Nevertheless, an overwhelming majority of African Americans participated wholeheartedly in the fight against the Axis powers. Their participation aimed at victory over fascism abroad and also over racism at home.

The Government was well aware of the demoralizing effects of racial prejudice on the American population and its impact on the war effort. Consequently, it promoted posters, pamphlets, and films highlighting the participation and achievement of African Americans in military and civilian life...(from Powers of Persuasion-Poster Art from WWII: United We Win)

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