Timeline: 1940s

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1940s graphic

Thumbs Up President Roosevelt, in a 1941 speech to Congress, identifies “Four Freedoms” essential for all people: freedom of speech and religion, freedom from want and fear. Roosevelt forbids racial and religious discrimination in government programs.

Thumbs Down After the attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941, both Japanese Americans and Japanese nationals are interned at inland prison camps.

Thumbs Down In 1941, Congress extends citizenship rights to Chinese living in U.S.

Thumbs Down Roosevelt and Churchill adopt the Atlantic Charter, “that all men in all the lands may live out their lives in freedom from want and fear.”

Thumbs Up A massive government and industry media campaign persuades women to take jobs during the war. Almost 7 million women respond, 2 million as "Rosie the Riveters" and 400,000 join the military.

In 1943, blacks protest exclusion from civilian defense jobs in Detroit.

Thumbs Down In 1944, Supreme Court rules blacks cannot be denied the right to vote in primary elections.

Thumbs DownG.I. BILL provides college funds for returning veterans, as well as unemployment compensation and loans to buy homes and start businesses.

Thumbs Down On Aug. 6, 1945, U.S. drops nuclear bomb on Hiroshima and later Nagasaki, killing about 210,000 people. The overwhelming majority were civilian.

End of WWII Aug 15, 1945

Thumbs Down lose their industrial jobs to returning servicemen, although surveys show 80 percent want to continue working. Almost 7 million women had joined the wartime workforce.

Thumbs Up Oct. 24, 1945: United Nations is formed to promote “respect for human rights and for fundamental freedoms for all.” Unlike the League of Nations Covenant, the Charter underscores the principle of individual human rights.

Thumbs Down In 1946, Supreme Court bans segregation in interstate bus travel.

The Cold War: 1940s-1980s

Thumbs Down In 1947, the House Un-American Activities Committee subpoenas film actors, directors, and screenwriters to testify about their Communist beliefs. Hollywood blacklists follow.

Thumbs Down Dec. 10, 1948: U.N. adopts the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

Thumbs Down Displaced Persons Act of 1948 allows entry for 200,000 World War II refugees; 1950 amendment allows 200,000 more.

Thumbs Down Fair Employment Board formed to eliminate racial discrimination in federal jobs.

Thumbs Down Alfred Kinsey publishes Sexual Behavior in the Human Male, revealing to the public that homosexuality is far more widespread than was commonly believed.

Thumbs Down 1949 Geneva Conventions set standards for humane treatment of prisoners and other victims of war.

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