Intersections of Black and Japanese American History: From Bronzeville to Black Lives Matter

During World War II, Black and Japanese American fates crossed in ways that neither group could have anticipated. While Japanese Americans were being forced to abandon the lives they’d built on the West Coast, African Americans were in the midst of the Great Migration from the South. During the war, many Black migrants set their sites on the West coast where labor shortages in the defense industry signalled new employment opportunities. Vacated Japanese American neighborhoods provided space for these new arrivals to establish themselves, but the process of putting down roots did not come easy.

Take Los Angeles for example. While Black laborers were welcomed in the city’s defense industries, the lives and families they brought with them were not. Restrictive housing covenants barred people of color from living in white neighborhoods, so the newly vacated Japanese American neighborhood known as Little Tokyo was one of the few places that had space available to arriving African Americans. read more at