Victory at Home is at once an institutional history
of the federal War Manpower Commission and a social history of the
southern labor force within the commission's province. Charles D.
Chamberlain explores how southern working families used America's
rapid wartime industrialization and an expanded federal presence to
gain unprecedented economic, social, and geographic mobility in the
chronically poor region.
Chamberlain looks at how war workers, black leaders, white
southern elites, liberal New Dealers, nonsouthern industrialists,
and others used and shaped the federal war mobilization effort to
fill their own needs. He shows, for instance, how African American,
Latino, and white laborers worked variously through churches, labor
unions, federal agencies, the NAACP, and the Urban League, using a
wide variety of strategies from union organizing and direct action
protest to job shopping and migration. Throughout, Chamberlain is
careful not to portray the southern wartime labor scene in
monolithic terms. He discusses, for instance, conflicts between
racial groups within labor unions and shortfalls between the War
Manpower Commission's national directives and their local
An important new work in southern economic and industrial
history, Victory at Home also has implications for the
prehistory of both the civil rights revolution and the massive
resistance movement of the 1960s. As Chamberlain makes clear,
African American workers used the coalition of unions, churches,
and civil rights organizations built up during the war to challenge
segregation and disenfranchisement in the postwar South.
Subjects: History, Political Science, Business
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