When the city became a major center for defense shipbuilding during World War II, tens of thousands of rural Texans migrated there for the new high-paying jobs. The Roosevelt administration ordered the defense industry to be integrated, and many Southern whites were working closely with blacks for the first time. Housing was scarce in the crowded city, and racial tensions increased. In June 1943 after workers at the Pennsylvania shipyard in Beaumont learned that a white woman had accused a black man of raping her, nearly 2,000 went to the jail where a suspect was being held, attracting more men along the way and reaching a total of 4,000. Ultimately the white mob rioted for three days, destroying major black neighborhoods and killing five persons. No one was prosecuted for the deaths. The riot in Beaumont was one of several in 1943 which centered in the defense industry, including Los Angeles, Detroit, and Mobile, Alabama as well as other cities across the country. The wartime social disruption was similar to war time riots which had occurred in other parts of the country during and following World War I.
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