As the nation’s factories and shipyards ramped up production for the war, the demand for labor exploded. Millions of women and minorities entered the workforce for the first time, finding a path to prosperity and opportunity.
But as Americans joined in common purpose, strife and challenges hit the homefront.
In 1943, half a million coal miners in West Virginia, Kentucky, and Pennsylvania went on strike, sparking nationwide uproar and threatening to derail the war effort. Cities erupted with tensions over housing and jobs as the largest migration in history transformed the nation. And deep questions over loyalty and belonging arose, as the federal government forced more than 100,000 Japanese Americans into detention camps.
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