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The Negro Soldier

The Negro Soldier(1944)

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Remind Me

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Inspired by the singing of one of his parishioners, an Army sergeant, a minister of a black church addresses his congregation about the role of black soldiers in contemporary America. To emphasize the importance of America's resistance to Nazism, the minister reads passages from Hitler's book Mein Kampf , in which Hitler decries progress for blacks and calls for the extermination of all who oppose him. Using the 1932 championship bout between Joe Louis and Max Schmeling as a metaphor for the conflict between the United States and Germany, the minister details the participation of blacks in various struggles throughout American history, including the Revolutionary War, the War of 1812, the Civil War, the Spanish American War and World War I. Specific heroes of those wars--Peter Salem of the Revolutionary War, Thomas Wilson of the War of 1812 and Samuel Washington of World War I--are cited by the minister, as are various black military units, such as the 371st Infantry, which distinguished itself in combat during World War I. After mentioning many prominent blacks of the past and present, including Booker T. Washington and George Washington Carver, and citing the achievements of black academic institutions, such as Howard University and Tuskegee Institute, the minister recalls the 1936 Berlin Olympics in which black athletes such as Jesse Owens and Ben Johnson defeated their German opponents. As the minister reminds his congregation of the attack on Pearl Harbor and of German atrocities, a woman interrupts and starts to read from a letter written by her son Bob, a recently promoted army officer. In his letter, Bob describes his army training, from his induction to his intensive drilling and preparation for battle. The minister then describes the range of jobs for black men and women in the military, from fighter pilot, to quartermaster, to tank destroyer, to infantryman, to road builder, to anti-aircraft gunner. In a final prayer, the minister enjoins his congregation to participate in America's continuing fight for liberty and justice for all.