Jim Crow Downunder? African American encounters with White Australia, 1942-1945

Sean Brawley*, Chris Dixon

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Citations (Scopus)
1573 Downloads (Pure)


Between 1941 and 1945, as the U.S. military machine sent millions of Americans-and American culture-around the world, several thousand African Americans spent time in Australia. Armed with little knowledge of Australian racial values and practices, black Americans encountered a nation whose long-standing commitment to the principle of "White Australia" appeared to rest comfortably with the segregative policies commonly associated with the American South. Nonetheless, while African Americans did encounter racism and discrimination-practices often encouraged by the white Americans who were also stationed in Australia during the war-there is compelling evidence that their experiences were not always negative. Indeed, for many black Americans, Australians' apparent open-mindedness and racial tolerance were a revelation-as were the racial views of white Britons and others with whom African Americans came into contact during the war. Making use of U.S. Army censors' reports and paying attention to black Americans' views of their experiences in Australia, this article not only casts light on an aspect of American-Australian relations that has hitherto received scant scholarly attention and reveals something about the African American experience, but also offers insights into race relations within the U.S. armed forces.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)607-632
Number of pages26
JournalPacific Historical Review
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2002
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Published as Pacific Historical Review, Vo. 71, No. 4, p. 607-632. © 2002 by the Pacific Coast Branch, American Historical Association. Copying and permissions notice: Authorization to copy this content beyond fair use (as specified in Sections 107 and 108 of the U. S. Copyright Law) for internal or personal use, or the internal or personal use of specific clients, is granted by the Regents of the University of California on behalf of the Sponsoring Society for libraries and other users, provided that they are registered with and pay the specified fee via Rightslink® on [Caliber (http://caliber.ucpress.net/)] or directly with the Copyright Clearance Center, http://www.copyright.com.


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