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Camp Howze Museum

Racism at Camp Howze and Beyond

"Now's not the time," was the general sentiment shared by Americans whose perceived "white" race instantly elevated them to superior citizenship, which placed their rights above all Black Americans. Permanently relegated to second-class status, Black Americans struggled against entrenched racist policies for equal opportunities to participate in the war effort. When the War Department began promoting positive messages to increase and maintain public support for the U.S. Armed Forces, the need for racial unity was never more apparent. As noted by the Denton Record-Chronicle, just as Camp Howze had begun receiving its first batch of troops in September 1942, the federal government, with the help of some national publications, hoped to soften the racist views against Black Americans by acknowledging their contributions and praising their hard work, dedication, and self-sacrifice. However, the Denton Record-Chronicle complained it was too much and warned against attempts to eliminate the well-established racial hierarchy which so many southern Americans vehemently supported and violently enforced. Nevertheless, the War Department's Signal Corps continued to produce war propaganda that might alter the attitudes of enough Americans to reduce the racial tension that continued to burden the military. 

In the War Department's 1944 film, titled "The Negro Soldier," Colonel Frank Capra, famed director of films such as "It's a Wonderful Life" and "Mr. Smith Goes to Washington," provided a new image of Black Americans that contrasted with the typically racist and demeaning representations published by newspapers available to Black soldiers stationed at Camp Howze.