The subjugation of previously-free nations following World War II gives testament to the ambiguous nature of “victory” through violent conflict, even that wreathed in the most exalted glory. History’s greatest catastrophe officially began on September 1, 1939, when Britain and France declared war on Germany after it invaded Poland to reclaim territory taken from it following World War I. Yet following America and the Allied Powers’ defeat of Germany, Poland fell under the murderous tyranny of one of those Allies, the Soviet Union, for nearly half a century. So did the rest of Eastern Europe.
Japan invaded China years before that, also to regain territory (Manchuria) that it claimed. Within a few years of the Allies’ victory in the Pacific Theater, though, the Chinese and other Asian nations liberated from the Japanese also fell to authoritarian and atheistic Communist rule.
Many other colonized and subjugated peoples gained freedom from imperialistic nations because of the war. Several of the imperial overlords actually shared in the war’s triumph, but emerged weaker due to the conflict and no longer able to control the emergent peoples. All these dramas played out against the burgeoning backdrop of the Cold War.
This historic struggle pitted the democratic and republican-inclined First World headed by the U.S. and other Western powers, against the Communist-ruled Second World, led by the Soviet Union and “Red” China. As explored later in this chapter, the latter emerged in 1949 under the barbaric rule of history’s supreme mass-murderer, Mao Zedong.
Control over much of the Third World, or less-developed nations, hung in the balance of this conflict. Civil wars and other strife transpired in many of them. The Cold War, also explored further later in this chapter, raged in social, economic, diplomatic, espionage, and combat realms. The latter component, in particular, altered the destinies of countless Oklahomans.
A related phenomenon accelerated in the United States, including Oklahoma, regarding African Americans. They had won a significant ruling before the war with the long-awaited dismantlement of the state’s Grandfather Clause that prohibited most blacks in the state from voting. Thousands of African American veterans, many having experienced combat, returned home from the war in the mid-1940s. They found a state that still required them and their children to attend separate schools from whites, sit in different sections from whites in buses, trains (and their depots), theaters, and restaurants—if they were permitted admittance at all—and disallowed them from trying on clothes they paid money to purchase in department stores.
They even had to drink from separate water fountains, including in the glittering downtown office buildings of Oklahoma City and Tulsa. They could seek only limited employment outside of the “Negro” section of towns, and were prohibited from nearly all white collar professional jobs.
Strict residential boundaries in towns and cities alike prevented blacks from living other than in small, often benighted, areas. These residential boundaries in turn curtailed a host of other supposedly-Constitutional freedoms, including school attendance. Even African-American voting rights, promised by the Fifteenth Amendment, languished through poll taxes, gerrymandering, and other measures. All these were legal according to the letter of the law, but illegal according to the spirit of it, and certainly deficient by Scriptural standards.
Black army veterans like OKC’s Ruben Rivers had won the Congressional Medal of Honor, broken the color barrier in the marines, and flown Mustang fighter planes head-to-head against the mighty German Air Force. They had suffered prejudice from white troops, bled and died at the hands of the Axis Powers, and witnessed a white European culture that did not stigmatize them for their race, including in the romantic and even marital realm. Many of them had no intention of returning to a segregated “business as usual.”
The above article is a bonus to the fascinating historical content found within our book
Oklahomans Vol 2 :
Statehood - 2020s
which can be purchased HERE.
View the inspiring 2-minute preview video HERE.