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The NPR Fresh Air history news article / news audio, How Racism And Discrimination Plagued Black Americans Serving In WWII, with Dave Davies and Matthew Delmont:
Here is an excerpt from this history news article / news audio:
Though more than a million Black Americans contributed to the war effort, historian Matthew Delmont says a uniform was no protection from racism at home or abroad.
His new book is Half American.
DAVE DAVIES, HOST:
This is FRESH AIR. I’m Dave Davies, in for Terry Gross.
When you see movies about World War II and photos of Allied campaigns against the Axis powers, the American military personnel depicted are almost entirely white.
But more than a million Black men and women served in World War II, fighting at Normandy, Iwo Jima and the Battle of the Bulge, and serving in support roles that were critical to the Allies’ success.
Our guest, historian Matthew F. Delmont, has a new book about the African American experience in World War II.
And it isn’t limited to their contributions to the war effort.
Delmont describes the discrimination Black Americans faced in the military and in civilian defense industries, and the brutality many Black servicemen suffered when stationed near white communities that resented their presence.
Delmont writes that African Americans didn’t receive many of the benefits Congress bestowed on service members in the GI Bill, but many were energized and enlightened by their experiences in the war and later became active in the civil rights movement.
Matthew Delmont is the Sherman Fairchild distinguished professor of history at Dartmouth College.
He’s the author of four previous books and has written for The New York Times, The Atlantic and other publications.
His new book is “Half American: The Epic Story Of African-Americans Fighting World War II At Home And Abroad.”