Blacks in America’s Wars

Forbidden, Forgotten, Formidable

Based on eight years of research, this book dispels the United States’ historic amnesia and tendency to prohibit blacks from bearing arms until national interests compel their service, only to forget their heroics, service, and achievements once the emergency passes. This book fills the huge void in America’s appreciation of the debt we owe to African Americans’ faithfulness despite oppression and abuse. Loyal Americans, they willingly served in the hope that by once again proving their manhood and steadfastness they would win acceptance and change prevailing hateful, bigoted attitudes.

Assault by 26th Regiment, US Colored Troops, courtesy Rick Reeves

America’s failure to integrate our armed forces not only harmed blacks, but diminished the United States’ potential as a nation, reducing the combat effectiveness of our military forces in both world wars and in Korea. This is even more amazing since their response to the Emancipation Proclamation’s call for service on January 1, 1863 resulted in the formation of 175 regiments, comprising more than 200,000 men — when both sides could no longer find replacements for horrific battlefield losses. Blacks turned the tide of battle, convincing Congress to form four black Regular Army regiments in 1866.

President Truman

Despite Truman’s 1948 directive integrating the armed forces, this had not occurred before the Korean war in 1951. The last segregated army unit was integrated in 1954, six years later. Successful integration of the services had a significant effect on the Civil Rights movement. By the time of the Vietnam War in the mid-1960s and 1970s, the services were the most integrated element of society, effectively demonstrated during Desert Storm, Afghanistan, and Iraq. Since then, the services have become a model for society at large.

Lloyd J. Austin III, Secretary of Defense (U.S. Army Photo)

Once embraced, integration greatly enhanced combat effectiveness. Gradually, talented and dedicated black noncommissioned and commissioned officers rose through the ranks. During Desert Storm (August 1990 – February 1991), General Colin Powell was Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and General Calvin Walker was the deputy commander of forces on the ground. Today, Lloyd Austin, a retired general, is the Secretary of Defense and Charles Q. Brown serves as Air Force Chief of the Staff.

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General Brown (USAF Photo)

This book illuminates critical moments in our history by describing the service blacks rendered throughout our existence, helping us appreciate the reality that all men and women are created equal. The study also documents the harm racism has inflicted and makes it clear that continuing to embrace diversity is essential if the country is to redress systemic injustice and centuries-long prejudices, finally attaining our democratic ideals and potential as a nation.

The study is organized into eight chapters comprising 250 pages, including 45 pages of endnotes and 60 graphics. There are two appendixes listing African American Medal of Honor recipients and nearly 400 black general and flag-rank officers, as well as an extensive bibliography, organized by chapter.

NOTE: The book is finished; I am seeking a publisher.

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Gene Betit

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