Despite all this, African-American soldiers showed amazing restraint in the face of such adversity such when Nelson Peery and his fellow soldiers were on base when word that white rioters were burning the colored section of town. There they sat, armed, trained, and dangerous, and yet they stayed their hands, and let the town of beumonts authority handle it, though Peery would later reflect on the hopelessness he felt as he convinced his fellow soldiers to stay their hands. “A Black man will never be anything more than a boy in this counry. Even if we killed them white bastards, we wouldn’t be brave defenders, we would be crazy, dangerous n****rs. If we managed to outsmart them, we would be sneaky, sinister n****rs”
Even African-Americans who were very highly educated and competent were frequently forced into odious tasks that were so far beneath them that it is stunning, such as the case of one Private First Class R. E. Threet, who in addition to having Many advanced science and mathematics courses including, but not limited to, Spherical Trigonometry and College Physics, was also a fluent speaker, and teacher, of Spanish and Portuguese, and instead of making use of his high intelligence, the Army relegated him to hauling 5-Gallon gas drums. Such wastefulness is shameful, and in the vein of waste, the complaint of having no proper latrine is an oft repeated one. These are not soldiers in the field making this complaint, where it might be more easily dismissed, but men stationed at home, in the U.S.A, and they are willing to fight and die for their country, yet their country is unwilling to provide them with even mediocre facilities. In Carolina, German POW’s were allowed to use the on base cafe, but the blacks were strictly forbidden from doing so, as a African-American soldier named Dryden said “We were insulted and humiliated in our own country.”
African-American soldiers were clearly being relegated to insulting tasks to a far greater degree than white soldiers, and these cases are extremely well documented, with letters, reports, and incidents all being carefully and faithfully documented for posterity. Sometimes however, African-Americans were given a chance, and they served honorably, and with distinction, flying in the face of those who disparaged them based on their race.
The African-American Service Corps served their country ably, and with honor, and their struggle should not be forgotten, nor should it be ignored. Their determination to be respected in the face of prejudice, and their industrious and thoughtfull natures are to be honored and admired.
Prior to Dr. Martin Luther Kings powerful Oration, and before Jackie Robinson broke the color barrier in the American game of baseball, there existed a group of African-Americans who would do more than perhaps anyone to tear down pre-conceived notions of stupidity and inferiority, and build better race relations in a nation savaged by racial strife. There can be no doubt as to their...