Station 6

Fascism Abroad… And At Home

“One person can’t do anything; it’s only with others that things are accomplished.”

– Luisa Moreno

Following the bombing of Pearl Harbor in 1941, the U.S. officially entered World War II, sending soldiers to Europe and Asia. The contributions of communities of color to the war efforts –even as they continue to experience racism, white supremacy, and discrimination in the U.S.–are seen throughout the mural. 

The segregated Japanese American 442nd Regimental Combat Team flies over the landscape littered with their relatives’ discarded belongings. Recruited from the internment camps, the 442nd Combat Team was the most decorated unit for its size in U.S. military history.  

Jewish Americans listen to news from Europe as Hitler looms above.

While a group of generals and businessmen plan World War II, a stream of soldiers calls attention to the trauma and brutality of war; their helmets number the dead from each country.

Jeannette Rankin, the first woman elected to Congress, stands alone before the House of Representatives. A lifelong pacifist, she is the only member to vote against the declaration of war on Japan following Pearl Harbor.

Women known as “Rosie the Riveters” step into vacant manufacturing jobs producing vital wartime materials. The war industry and the Fair Employment Act opened the door to greater, though limited, employment opportunities for communities of color.

Dr. Charles Drew, famous for conducting life-saving research in the field of blood transfusions during WWII, cradles his own body as an iron hand cuts off his blood flow. It was widely believed that Dr. Drew was fatally denied a transfusion due to discrimination. Further accounts found that he could not be saved due to the severity of his accident. The extent of medical segregation likely contributed to the story’s proliferation.

Mrs. Laws raises the sign “we fight fascism abroad and at home” as the U.S. flag colors give way to the green, black, and red Pan-African colors. The Laws family were imprisoned for breaking the racial covenant laws in South Los Angeles by refusing to follow a court order that barred them from living in their home. The Laws family were supported by community aid and protests until the Supreme Court found racial housing covenants unconstitutional in 1948.

A police officer in jackboots towers over a recoiled body in reference to the 1943 Zoot Suit Riots.

During the riots, mobs of U.S. servicemen and off-duty police officers attacked young Latinos and other minorities. The victims were assaulted, stripped of their clothing, and left bloodied on the sidewalk to be arrested by police officers watching from the sidelines. The violence was praised by the Los Angeles Times; an actual headline–“Zoot Suitors Learn Lesson in Fights with Servicemen”–is depicted.

Guatemalan-born Luisa Moreno was a major labor organizer in the U.S.
She is wrapped in a flag of the Spanish-speaking Peoples Congress, the first national Latino civil rights assembly.

The flags identify the unions she worked for while organizing garment, cigar, and cannery workers across the U.S.  Near her, a “bracero” or manual worker toils in a field; the Bracero Program (1942-1964) brought over 4.6 million Mexican workers labored in harsh conditions for depressed wages.

Aboard the MS St. Louis ship, 973 Jewish refugees with supposed legal landing permits and visas were denied asylum in Cuba, the US, and Canada, even though all of the refugees believed they had legal landing permits and visas. The ship returned to Europe, where 254 of its passengers were among the 6 million Jews murdered by Nazis in the Holocaust.

Alongside a plume of smoke referencing the atomic bomb, a man reaches towards Israel. Geographically and historically inaccurate image of the land between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea. It also neglects the Nakba—the mass violence against Palestinians and forced displacement of 80% of Palestine’s native inhabitants— which began in 1948 and created another massive and still-growing refugee population.
Apparitions of non-white soldiers peer in through the window realizing that little has changed for them as a white couple sits at a kitchen table.

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