“I had lain on the beach many times, but never before with a white girl [...] No one stared as we lay on the beach together, our skins contrasting but our hearts beating identically and both with noses on the center of our faces. Odd, it seemed to me, that here, in the land of hate, I should find this all-important phase of democracy. And suddenly I felt bitter.“
William Gardner Smith about the experience of black GIs in Germany, from The Last of the Conquerors (1948)
"Ein Hauch von Freiheit" (Breath of Freedom)
December 16, 10:05pm CET on Arte
"Breath of Freedom: Black Soldiers and the Battle for Civil Rights" (narrated by Cuba Gooding, Jr.)
Premiers February 17, 8pm ET/PT on Smithsonian Channel
"Freed's enduring photos of march part of exhibit"
„Heldin des anderen Amerikas“
für Angela Davis, 1970–1973.
Directed by Stuart Heisler (Film Unit Frank Capra)
United States War Department
During WWII, the U.S. government produced numerous documentaries, often under the supervision of Frank Capra, designed to build support for the war. One of the more curious entries in this effort was "The Negro Soldier."
The structure of the film is that of a black minister who preaches a sermon to his all-black congregation. Over the course of 40 minutes, the minister recounts the contributions of blacks in American military history, from Crispus Attucks and the Boston Massacre to the men who served in WWI, along the way touching on the War of 1812, the Civil War, the exploration of the West and the building of the railroad, the Spanish-American War, and the building of the Panama Canal.
Throughout, the filmmakers blend archival footage and Hollywood re-creations to illustrate the preacher's words, and even include a re-creation of the destruction by the Nazis of a WWI monument in France to African-American soldiers. The film then slips into a more general history, telling of Booker T. Washington, George Washington Carver and the roles blacks have played in such fields as law, medicine, global exploration, music, education, art, academia, and athletics.
The second half of The Negro Soldier moves into the present, describing the crimes of the Germans and Japanese and filling the screen with graphic images of hangings, bombings, and bodies; following the sentimental story of a young man through basic training; and wrapping up with a slew of images showing African-Americans serving in all aspects of military life, from infantrymen and tank destroyers to engineers and quartermasters. The Negro Soldier was written by Carlton Moss, who would become an important figure in African-American independent cinema, and the following year the U.S. Navy released a follow-up of sorts, The Negro Sailor."
Source: Bob Mastrangelo, All Movie Guide, New York Times