Black Sharpshooters Need Not Apply
G. P. Miller, a black physician from Michigan, wrote this letter to U.S. Secretary of War Simon Cameron in October 1861. He proposed to raise a regiment of “sharp shooters” to fight against the Confederacy. The War Department praised Miller’s “patriotic spirit and intelligence” but declined his offer because of orders that “authorize the arming of colored persons only in cases of great emergency.”
Letter from a Battle Creek, Michigan African American Physician to the Union Secretary of War, 10/30/1861
“We Negroes are American Citizens - First Class tax payers, but so often we are treated as second class citizens, if there is such. In our hearts, we would like to know what it is that the White man has against the Negro. What can we do to make peace with the White man? We have to live on this earth together. We can not do without each other. We as a group, want your friendship, won’t you accept?”
Letter to President Dwight D. Eisenhower from Mrs. Floy J. Anderson Regarding Racial Disputes, 10/15/1957
In this letter, Mrs. Floy J. Anderson, who describes herself as Negro, writes about racial disputes including the recent Little Rock School Integration Crisis, being treated as a second class citizens and an incident where she was refused a ride on a Trans-contentintal Railway Bus.
August 28, 1963: The March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom
See last year’s post for the highlight of the March, Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” speech:
Harmony Community, Putnam County, Georgia…. This old woman was a slave and belonged to the family on whose place she now lives. She was a small girl when Sherman’s Army came through. 05/28/1941 - 06/01/1941
Irving Rusinow, photographer. From the Photographic records of the Bureau of Agricultural Economics.
On February 26, 1939, in a dramatic act of conscience, Eleanor Roosevelt resigned from the Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR) when it barred the world-renowned singer Marian Anderson, an African American, from performing at its Constitution Hall in Washington, DC.
Letter from Eleanor Roosevelt to Mrs. Henry Roberts, 02/26/1939
On January 22, 1944, the Allies began their assault of Anzio, Italy during World War II. Pictured on the Anzio beachhead are members of the 99th Fighter Squadron (aka the Tuskegee Airmen) of the Army Air Forces, an African American unit, which provided crucial air support during the invasion.
WAVES Making History!
Lt.(jg.) Harriet Ida Pickens and Ens. Frances Wills, first Negro Waves to be commissioned. They were members of the final graduating class at Naval Reserve Midshipmen’s School (WR) Northampton, MA.”, 12/21/1944
December 14, 1944
‘Somewhere in England one of the hottest bands in the European Theater of Operations belongs to a Special United States Naval Construction Battalion…’ The band leader and trumpeter is Coxswain Thomas J. Lindsey (left), and the drummer is S1c. Edward A. Grant, 12/14/1944.
Promotion denied, again
In this letter, dated November 18, 1864, Major General J.G. Foster responds to a request made by Massachusetts Governor John Andrew. Andrew had repeated a request that Sergeant Stephen A. Swails, of the 54th Massachusetts Volunteers be allowed to muster in as a 2nd Lieutenant. In this letter, Foster notes that despite Swails’ distinguished service in battle and high respect from his own officers, the War Department has refused the promotion because Swails “is of African descent.” (Swails would ultimately be granted his promotion, after months of struggle.)
November 5, 1944 - “Cpl. Carlton Chapman…is a machine-gunner in an M-4 tank, attached to a Motor Transport unit near Nancy, France.”