African Americans: The Next Generation

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

"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.