Tag: African-American Military History

‘Black Bodies In Propaganda: The Art Of The War Poster’, PBS TV Host Tukufu Zuberi’s Black War Posters Focus of US Exhibit

In this Thursday, May 30, 2013 photo, University of Pennsylvania professor and PBS History Detectives host Tukufu Zuberi speaks about an Italian 1942 broadside matted on canvas by Gino Boccasile during an interview with The Associated Press at the Black Bodies in Propaganda: The Art of the War Poster exhibit at the Penn Museum, in Philadelphia. The new museum exhibition presents 33 posters owned by Zuberi that were designed to mobilize Africans and African-Americans in war efforts, even as they faced oppression and injustice in their homelands. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)
In this Thursday, May 30, 2013 photo, University of Pennsylvania professor and PBS History Detectives host Tukufu Zuberi speaks about an Italian 1942 broadside matted on canvas by Gino Boccasile during an interview with The Associated Press at the Black Bodies in Propaganda: The Art of the War Poster exhibit at the Penn Museum, in Philadelphia. The new museum exhibition presents 33 posters owned by Zuberi that were designed to mobilize Africans and African-Americans in war efforts, even as they faced oppression and injustice in their homelands. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)

PHILADELPHIA (AP) — A new exhibit created by a University of Pennsylvania professor and host of a popular public television show examines how wartime propaganda has been used to motivate oppressed populations to risk their lives for homelands that considered them second-class citizens.

“Black Bodies in Propaganda: The Art of the War Poster,” opens Sunday and continues until March 2 at the University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology. Lectures, film screenings and other programming will be rolled out over the course of the exhibit’s run.

The exhibit’s 33 posters, dating from the American Civil War to both World Wars and the African independence movements, are part of the personal collection of Tukufu Zuberi, Penn professor of sociology and African studies and a host of the Public Broadcasting Service series “History Detectives.”

Zuberi began his collection in 2005 and owns 48 posters in all. There are five he’s seeking to complete his collection, but he’s not divulging any specifics. “Oh, I don’t want to go there,” he said with a laugh. “If I say anything, then there’s going to be someone out there with more money and I won’t be able to buy anything again.”

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WWII’s African-American Paratroopers, the “Triple Nickles,” Lauded in New Book

Award-winning author Tanya Lee Stone is clear about why she’s written her new nonfiction book, “Courage Has No Color: The True Story of the Triple Nickles, America’s First Black Paratroopers” (Candlewick Press, $24.99).  “I want to help the Triple Nickles become as well-known as the Tuskegee Airmen,” Stone says.
The Tuskegee Airmen, the first African-American pilots in the U.S. military, are now an integral part of the history of World War II. Far fewer people, however, have heard of the 555th Parachute Infantry Battalion — nicknamed the “Triple Nickles” — and the unit’s pioneering efforts to open up paratrooper jobs during World War II.
In her meticulously researched, well-written book, Stone tells the story of how the 555th was established in 1943 — a unit with black soldiers and black officers, the first-ever black U.S. paratroopers.

The unit’s nickname was a nod to the Buffalo Soldiers, as the African-American regiments in the U.S. Civil War and later were called. The “Triple Nickles” name also connects to the buffalo image that was stamped on American nickels for many years.

It took Stone 10 years, working off and on, to write “Courage Has No Color.” It was definitely worth the wait, as Stone movingly portrays the inspiring courage, determination and persistence displayed by African-American servicemen in the face of overwhelming racial prejudice in the U.S. military. It’s a story that Stone strongly believes should be much better known than it is.  “These men are almost not with us anymore,” Stone says, noting that many of the Triple Nickles are in their 90s.

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Black History Month: Remembering African-American Women who Have Served

When outgoing defense secretary Leon Panetta lifted the military ban against women serving in combat, a common phrase heard in response to his decision was this: women have been serving for decades in combat zones indirectly, and risking their lives. The lifting of the ban was merely a formality that in many ways acknowledged the bravery and sacrifices women in the military have been making for decades.

New York’s Daily News has published an essay with a similar theme in honor of black women to commemorate Black History Month. Much as women in general have been contributing without appreciation for their level of service, the significant participation of African-American women in the military has been largely overlooked — perhaps to an even greater extent.

“According to the Indiana-based Buffalo Soldiers Research Museum, African-American women have played a role in every war effort in United States history,” writes Jay Mwamba of the Daily News. “And black women participated in spite of the twin evils of racial and gender discrimination.”

Nwamba goes on to recount the heroic feats of black women who fought for the American way in creative, mind-blowing ways, pushing themselves to the limit to enhance various military efforts. Harriet Tubman, who acted as a spy, nurse and scout during the Civil War. Cathay Williams, who, after being freed from a plantation by a Union contingent, pretended to be a man so that she could enlist in a peacetime army.

“For two years — until she fell ill and her ruse was discovered — Williams served as a Buffalo Soldier with the 38th U.S. Infantry Regiment,” Mwamba relates.

Now that is truth being stranger than fiction.

But we don’t have to go back to 1866, the year Williams enlisted, to find African-American sheroes engaging in daring feats. As recently as 2009, U.S. Navy Vice Admiral Michelle Janine Howard used military might to wrestle with forces of darkness. The first black woman to command a Navy combat ship, Howard made headlines when her vessel tangled with Somali pirates in the process of rescuing the captain of a merchant ship from captivity.

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