TAPS FOR JIM CROW ARMY. Many black soldiers serving in the U.S. Army during World War II were hopeful that they might make permanent gains as a result of their military service and their willingness to defend their country. They were soon disabused of such illusions. TAPS FOR A JIM CROW ARMY is a powerful collection of letters written by black soldiers in the 1940s to various government and nongovernment officials. In these letters, the soldiers expressed their disillusionment, rage, and anguish over the discrimination and segregation they experienced in the Army. Most black troops were denied entry into army specialist schools; black officers were not allowed to command white officers; black soldiers were served poorer food and were forced to ride Jim Crow military buses into town and to sit in Jim Crow base movie theaters. In the South, German POWs could use the same latrines as white American soldiers, but blacks could not.
While poring over records at the National Archives in Washington, D.C., Phillip McGuire discovered hundreds of government-classified letters written by black soldiers. He has selected and commented on a number of them here, covering a broad range of abuses and injustices suffered. And he has left them as they were written, sometimes eloquent, often ungrammatical, always deeply emotional. 320 pages.
The original foreword by Benjamin Quarles, professor emeritus of history at Morgan State University, and a new foreword by Bernard C. Nalty, the chief historian in the Office of Air Force History, offer rich insights into the world of these soldiers.
Phillip McGuire is professor of history at Fayetteville State University in North Carolina.
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