African American Stories Online in Honor of Black History Month

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African American Stories Online in Honor of Black History Month

U.S. Coast Guard | February 10, 2006
WASHINGTON, D.C., - A selection of 23 fully digitized collections of materials submitted by African American war veterans is highlighted on the Veterans History Project web site. The collection of fully-digitized stories is titled “African Americans at War: Fighting Two Battles,” and is added to “Experiencing War” stories from the Veterans History Project at www.loc.gov/warstories.

“As the nation celebrates Black History Month, the Veterans History Project is honoring African American veterans who have served in the United States military by highlighting some of the remarkable stories we have received,” said Bob Patrick, acting director of the Veterans History Project. “We also invite and encourage all minority military veterans to contribute their story so that their sacrifice and service on behalf of this nation will not be forgotten.”

This is the tenth set of individual stories—comprising interviews, letters, photographs and written memoirs—to be featured on the site. Past themes have included D-Day, prisoners of war, military medicine and war’s end. Companion sites to the project’s two books, “Forever a Soldier” and “Voices of War,” can also be viewed on the “Experiencing War” site.

The Veterans History Project site now has 2,248 stories online, many of which include audio and video interviews, photographs, diaries, letters and other materials, consisting of more than 100,000 online items. These materials are part of the continuing effort by the Library to make its collections accessible online.

“African Americans at War” presentation honors the service of veterans by sharing their stories with the public. One of the featured veterans, Pearle W. Mack, Jr., is one of the 11 African American’s who served in the segregated U.S. Army of World War II. Mack went on to a lifetime career in the armed forces. In his interview, Mack talks about the changes in the attitudes toward race that occurred during his 30-year career.

“The Next Generation” features veterans such as Willie Boyd who served two tours of duty in Vietnam as the only black man in his platoon. During his service, Boyd was shot down three times. In the interview, Boyd recalls, “Once you get with a unit and you start working as a team, color never comes up.” Also featured in “The Next Generation” is the Deputy Librarian of Congress, Donald L. Scott. After completing a college ROTC program in 1960, Scott rose steadily in the ranks to become a Brigadier General. In his interview, Gen. Scott talks about "the shadow of race."

Veterans from World War I through the current conflict, and the civilians who supported them, are coming forward to record their personal stories and contribute personal documents for a growing archives at the American Folklife Center at the Library of Congress. The goal is to collect, preserve and share with future generations the stories of all American war veterans. To date, more than 40,000 individuals have submitted stories to the collection.

Those interested in becoming involved in the Veterans History Project are encouraged to send e-mail to vohp@loc.gov to request a project kit. The kit is also available on the Veterans History Project Web site at www.loc.gov/vets or call the toll-free message line at (888) 371-5848.

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Copyright 2006 U.S. Coast Guard. All opinions expressed in this article are the author's and do not necessarily reflect those of Military.com.
 

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