Monday, November 2, 2009

The Good War - Timuel Black

Timuel Black is depicted a great man who served his country and was loyal to his community and family in his interview with Terkel. His tone for his depiction of wartime is as always gripping in its detail but he is also satirical in his delivery. Mainly due to the fact that the war for him like many African Americans serving in World War Two wasn't just a war being fought on the fields of France, but it was also being fought along the lines of white and black. War was a struggle for Timuel Black just like every single Negro soldier who served during World War Two.

The fight for equality for Black was seen not only seen in the segregated regiments of the Army but also but the biased tests that the army gave to incoming draftees. As northern educated men such as himself was still put below in rank to his uneducated comrade solely in an effort to suppress what might be a substantial voice. Or how him and his other fellow man were put to being servants and supply carriers when many felt the need to fight and die for their flag.

Black describes the liberation of the Buchenwald prison camp and the storming of the beach at Utah. Describing it with a wit and charm, where most veterans would cringe and shutter at the memory of D-Day. He even describes himself as solemn as he watched his fellow man die and cry for mercy in the face of the big German gun. He described these horrific happenings during wartime, but was still so deeply disturbed by the horrors of American racism, segregation, and bigotry he describes more than once the desire to stay in Europe. He describes the open compassion Europeans showed the African American soldier as not a black man trying to overcome but as a liberator, a hero, and a friend.

This passage really gripped me and showed the split that there is an was in the United States armed forces when it comes to discrimination. Black's commentary on the war is shocking, in some respect. He describes the liberated French man as embracing and embracing his love of jazz music. Something so important in African American culture, can be enjoyed by a man who in France for over 3 years was in the death grip of Nazi control. When your white comrade who fights, bleeds, and dies for the same flag wont even use the same bathroom as you, shows just how un-united the United States really was.

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