Special Focus: Racism in Detroit
The world was changing by World War II, causing some white residents to react to their Black neighbors in discriminatory and sometimes violent ways. Large numbers of Black workers migrated from the South hoping for economic opportunity and, later, Black servicemen returned from war expecting full rights under the democracy they had served. Leaders of progressive organizations like the United Automobile Workers also advocated for racial equality, though the rank and file did not always share such sentiments.
Amid this change, groups like the Ku Klux Klan and the Klan-inspired Black Legion thrived on white fear. Like Black migrants, many white newcomers to the Detroit area had roots in the South. They believed, for example, that white residents had a right to Detroit’s limited housing stock and better-paying jobs with greater social status.