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BLACK 1940's AMERICA
African's in The American Diaspora
(a continuing series)


Don Noyes-More Ph.D., Content Editor

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CLICK ABOVE FOR DETAIL


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"THIS IS OUR WAR:" 

Ollie Stewart at Normandy


by: Todd Steven Burroughs

From Black Press USA 


     The Negro press distinguished itself during World War II, both on the frontline and the home front. It was virtually the only public source where Negroes could read of their own war exploits.

Among those Negro newspapers covering World War II with its own personnel was The Afro-American. Its overseas correspondents included Max Johnson, Vincent Tubbs, Art Carter, Elizabeth M. Phillips, Herbert M. Frisby and Ollie Stewart. Below is an excerpt of one of Stewart's articles, under the subhead "Normandy Beachhead," written after the 1944 D-Day invasion of the French beaches of Normandy by the Allies.

The excerpt is taken from "This Is Our War," a collection of AFRO World War II articles the company self-published in 1945. For more information on the AFRO and World War II, check the AFRO's Website at www.afroam.org.

***

Stories of heroic deeds by Colored troops have come to me from every angle since my arrival on a Normandy beachhead exactly one month after departure from the U.S.A.

Leaving from England, Colored soldiers loaded us on a boat, other accompanied us over, and still others unloaded us and much equipment on the beach they helped win from the enemy during the first few days of the invasion.

I am writing this beneath an apple tree by the roadside, with fat cattle grazing nearby, unmindful of the trucks rushing to the front with men and supplies, of the incessant pounding of artillery not far up the road.

All last night, guns shook the ground on which I slept. Our Long Toms slugged it out with German 88's in a duel that has no end.

I am staying with a quartermaster outfit whose medical officer is Capt. Charles I. West of Washington, brother of Maj. John B. West. In the next tent is Warrant Officer Vincent Piedra of New York.

The outfit already has five purple hearts for wounds resulting from enemy action, awarded to Staff Sergeant Leo Chenault, Indianapolis; Pfc. Clordie Caldwell, Kings Creek, N.C.; Pfc. Wilfert Fox, Jonesboro, N.C.; Pfc. Arlander Barker, Chicago, and Pfc. Austin Anderson, Wilmington, Del.

Another unit has among its personnel Cpl. John Hawkins of Pine Bluff, Ark., who shot down a German plane on D-Day while landing under fire with a trucking company. Hawkins used a 50-calibre machine gun mounted on the truck to down the raider, which was attempting to strafe a troop concentration.

The Nazi pilot bailed out and was later captured.

Pvt. George McClain, 2263 E. 95th Street, Cleveland, Ohio, helped captures a German on D-Day soon after landing. The same day he went to the front before he knew it--driving a load of infantrymen up the road into a town still held by the Germans, but he made a quick turn and fled under fire by both sides.

Everywhere I go are tales of our lads who waded ashore in water up to their necks, with their trucks waterproofed, to take part in the assault that forced Jerry [ apparently Allied slang for the German soldier] from his strong points.

Many are still saying, "I don't know how we did it, after seeing how Jerry was dug in." All along the beach were concrete pillboxes, barbed wire and gun emplacements. 


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From The Family Albums

THE "DUKE"
Hurricane Club NY 1940's

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SEE THE PRESENTATION: Victorian Women of Color (click)

   "The history of the American Negro is the history of this strife,--this longing to  attain self-conscious manhood, to merge his double self into a better and truer  self.  In this merging he wishes neither of the older selves to be lost.  He would  not Africanize America, for America has too much to teach the world and Africa.    He would not bleach his Negro soul in a flood of white Americanism, for he knows  that Negro blood has a message for the world.  He simply wishes to make it  possible for a man to be both a Negro and an American, without being cursed and  spit upon by his fellows, without having the doors of Opportunity closed roughly in  his face."  - W. E. B. Du Bois, The Souls of Black Folk


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Our Thank You to the Following for making this presentation possible:


The United States Library of Congress
Black Press USA
FLICKR
Congress of Racial Equality Archieves
Los Angels African-American Museum


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