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African American soldier guarding German
prisoners during World War II

I have been heavily engaged for the past four months in producing a second edition of my account of African Americans’ experience in North America. To begin with, although the New York Times and the National Park Service, (and my first edition) bought into the notion that 2019 marked the 400th anniversary of blacks’ presence in what is now the United States, THIS SIMPLY IS NOT SO! It is, however, a measure of how Anglo-Saxon-centric our view of history is.

There was a failed Spanish colony in present-day Georgia in 1526 and blacks were among Spanish Conquistadores and slaves who settled in St. Augustine, the oldest city in North America in 1565. So, blacks beat Anglo Saxons to North America, and they were on the continent nearly one hundred years before 1619. Ooops!

Another discovery, and it’s not a pleasant one: Britain used her New World colonies as a dumping ground for highwaymen, pickpockets, pimps, whores, orphans, and criminals. Hence, the notion of “white superiority” is somewhat of a joke. (But don’t let the White Supremacists and American Nazis know this. They’d be very disturbed!!)

The new book has a chapter on the Buffalo Soldiers, four regiments, two cavalry, and two infantry, authorized by Congress in 1867. These soldiers were twenty percent of the force that protected settlers and fought Native Americans on the Western plains for about forty years. All four regiments were heavily engaged in Cuba and in the Philippines. The last of these regiments was disbaned only at the end of the Korean War in 1951 when America’s armed forces were finally desegregated, three years after Truman’s 1948 Executive Order.

I’ve also added three appendices: the first details almost 150 African Americans who made major contributions to America and the world in a dizzying array of spheres. The next lists nearly 400 black generals and flag officers, an amazing feat considering that the armed forces did not achieve anything like full integration until the Vietnam War in the mid-1960s. The last appendix details nearly forty instances of unarmed blacks killed during encounters with police, correlating this with the rise of the Black Lives Matter movement.

There’s a whole lot more in this second edition. Now all I need is a publisher!!

And I’ve also written a children’s book. The title for both is African Americans in American History, 1526 – Present. The point is, this is an essential part of American history, not some add-on or optional element. Whites heretofore simply considered these matters inconsequential and left them out!

Civil War veterans marching proudly in a 4th of July parade.


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Gene Betit

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