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Experiencing War: African Americans at War: Fighting Two Battles (Stories from the Veterans History Project, Library of Congress)

Once World War II dramatized the disconnect between what America was fighting against and its racial policies in the military, African Americans began to see more opportunities open up in subsequent wars. The stench of racism lingered on, and the controversies attending those wars, especially Vietnam, brought more complex factors into play as well. But for some, race became a non-issue for their entire tour of service.

Featured Story: Willie H. Boyd
Willie H. Boyd - link to story

"Once you get with a unit and you start working as a team, color never comes up." (Video interview, 29:30)

Born in Tuskegee, Alabama, home to the famed aviation school for African Americans, Willie Boyd naturally dreamed of flying as a young boy working on a farm. He volunteered for flight school and did two tours of duty in Vietnam, flying an air ambulance as the only black man in his platoon. He was shot down three times but never captured or injured badly enough to stop him from going out after more casualties of war.

Go to Willie H. Boyd's story Go and experience
Willie H. Boyd's story
Experience more Stories of African Americans: The Next Generationmore stories
"The racism comes when the fight is over." -- Daniel Burress
James W. Allen - link to story

"People look at me and thought, This guy can do it."

James W. Allen's story

Charles Earnest Berry - link to story

"I am an American. And when I go home [from Korea], I can't even sit and eat where I want to."

Charles Earnest Berry's story

Daniel Edward Burress - link to story

"You feel like you're fighting for someone's else's freedom and you don't have your own."

Daniel Edward Burress' story

Terona Chivers - link to story

"... I'm up here in Alaska, and I got this white woman rubbing my back. This is not going to work, you know?"

Terona Chivers' story

James Franklin McCall - link to story

"I almost went native and became an advocate for protection for the people."

James Franklin McCall's story

Marion Anthony Marshall - link to story

"There was a very low threat as long as you obeyed the rules."

Marion Anthony Marshall's story

Michael Mills - link to story

"My military experience was the tool which I used to be a successful candidate in anything I did."

Michael Mills' story

Solomon Reed - link to story

"I didn't see it as breaking a barrier. I saw an opportunity was presented to me..."

Solomon Reed's story

Robert Lee Rice - link to story

"Because I made it, I have what they call survivor's guilt."

Robert Lee Rice's story

Donald L. Scott - link to story

"... I will do whatever it takes to make sure that soldiers have the best chance to survive."

Donald L. Scott's story

Walter L. Washington - link to story

"You depended on the very people who were stealing from you."

Walter L. Washington's story

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  August 11, 2010
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