The Real Story on African Americans' Service During World War II

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Rebecca Keane
Ivan Allen College of Liberal Arts
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Col. Steve Hall Lectures at HTS

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In a lecture March 10 in Eleanor Alexander's course on Twentieth Century African American History, retired USAF Colonel Steve Hall queried students about how many men and women of color they recalled seeing serving on ships, flying fighter airplanes, commanding tanks, or nursing the wounded in Hollywood movies about World War II?

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In a lecture March 10 in Eleanor Alexander's course on Twentieth Century African American History, retired USAF Colonel Steve Hall queried students about how many men and women of color they recalled seeing serving on ships, flying fighter airplanes, commanding tanks, or nursing the wounded in Hollywood movies about World War II?

"You saw very, very few," said Hall.

Despite comprising 11% of the total US military force fielded in World War II, African Americans and their contributions to victory have gone relatively unreported in the 64 years since the war ended. Hall told their story in his lecture African Americans in World War II.

"People know something of the Tuskegee Airmen, but almost nothing of the 761st Tank Battalion, the 92nd Infantry Division, the USS Mason, or the 6888th Postal Battalion," said Hall. Hall's real-life stories of Sgt. Ruben Rivers, Lt. John Fox, Gen. Benjamin Davis, and Sgt. Bill Ellington gave credibility to the historical journey of African Americans from induction to basic training to deployment and to final victory. Despite the racism that was a fact of civilian and military life in the 1940's, African American men and women proudly served in all branches of the military and successfully executed the most difficult tasks in both combat support and combat arms.

Says Colonel Hall, "I am convinced that the 1.1 million men and women of color who served on the land, sea, and in the air, showed a nobility of character unparalleled in US military history, and in the process, they covered themselves with glory."

Hall (IM '67) directs Depot Operations for L3 Communications Systems-West, a Salt Lake City firm that manufactures extremely high-tech data link communications used in such equipment as the Global Hawk and Predator war planes. He is a frequent lecturer on the Georgia Tech campus.

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Ivan Allen College of Liberal Arts

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Keywords
blacks WWII, Col. Steve Hall, HTS lectures, Tuskeegee airmen
Status
  • Created By: Rebecca Keane
  • Workflow Status: Published
  • Created On: Apr 16, 2009 - 8:00pm
  • Last Updated: Oct 7, 2016 - 11:02pm