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US: Black soldiers



Today the History Channel presented one more documentary on the triumph of Black American soldiers over race prejudice. Titled "The Harlem Hellfighters", it was excellent. The commentators included Lonnie G. Bunch of the Smithsonian Institution, and organizations like the Library of Congress cooperated in its preparation. While the stress was on World War I and II, it sketched the history of Black soldiers, , glossing as usual over the fact that in the American Revolution many of the soldiers were slaves of men like Washington. What it said about Black cavalrymen among Roosevelt's Rough Riders was interesting. It showed photographs of these so-called "buffalo fighters". Roosevelt at time the had high praise for them, but then when he entered national politics he stopped talking about them. One soldier was Napoleon Bonaparte Hayward, a reminder that we need a study of the Napoleonic legend in America. Incidentally, this documentary was an example of US government involvement with the media. I was surprised at the reluctance to acknowledge this among some WAISers. I have often been involved in this process myself, sometimes to my advantage, sometimes not. It is a complicated story, which I would love to tell in detail if I had time.

Ronald Hilton - 2/7/03


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