On September 7, 2017, the Dallas Holocaust Museum/Center for Education and Tolerance presents the special gallery exhibit, Fighting for the Right to Fight: African American Experiences in WWII.

The special gallery exhibit begins in the 1920s with segregation and discrimination directed at African Americans. In the landmark case Plessy v. Ferguson (1896), the Supreme Court upheld racial segregation legislation under the guise of the concept “separate but equal.” This ruling, coupled with the Jim Crow laws that restricted the civil liberties of African Americans in every part of society, including the military, halted the forward momentum created by the abolition of slavery and the addition of the Reconstruction Amendments to the U.S. Constitution.

At the outbreak of World War II, thousands of African Americans rushed to enlist. They were determined to fight to preserve the freedom denied to them. This exhibit tells their story.

Executive Order 8802, signed by President Roosevelt on June 25, 1941, prohibited racial discrimination in defense industries or government, thereby allowing African Americans to join the war effort. However, distrusted by the military, African Americans were segregated and often relegated to non-combat roles.

After the presidential decree, the Army Air Corps trained a limited number of black pilots in Tuskegee, Alabama. The famous Tuskegee Airmen and their successful war efforts served as a symbol of African-American participation in World War II.

Over 1 million African-American men and women served in the Armed Forces during the war, including several thousand who saw combat. However, no African Americans received the Medal of Honor during World War II.

By the end of the war little progress had been made in ending racial discrimination in the United States. The resultant collective frustration and yearning for greater opportunities helped pave the way for the post-war Civil Rights Movement.

Fighting for the Right to Fight: African American Experiences in WWII highlights the achievements and struggles of African Americans during World War II both abroad and at home and explores how the war served as a catalyst for African Americans seeking social change and equal rights.

Fighting for the Right to Fight: African American Experiences in WWII was produced by The National World War II Museum. All rights reserved. The exhibit will run through January 26, 2018. 


Join us at the Dallas Holocaust Museum, on Thursday, September 7 for the opening reception for Fighting for the Right to Fight: African American Experiences in WWII.

Exhibit Opening Reception Guest Speakers:

- Mrs. Erma Bonner-Platte, widow of Tuskegee Airmen instructor Captain Claude R. Platte

- Flight Officer Robert T. McDaniel, former Tuskegee Airman

- Dr. J. Todd Moye, History Professor at UNT

Free. RSVP required through Eventbrite.


National Touring Sponsors:

Abbot Downing

Wells Fargo


Exhibit Sponsors:

Dallas Tourism Public Improvement District

Fox Rothschild, LLP

City of Dallas Office of Cultural Affairs


Community Partners:

African American Museum

Bishop Arts Theatre Center

Dallas Civil Rights Museum

Holy Cross Catholic Church


For more information, visit

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