Christine Knauer, "Let Us Fight as Free Men: Black Soldiers and Civil Rights" (U Pennsylvania Press, 2014)


Recent controversies over integrating the military have focused on issues of gender and sexuality. In the 1940s and 50s, however, the issue was racial integration. As Christine Knauer shows in her new book Let Us Fight as Free Men: Black Soldiers and Civil Rights (University of Pennsylvania Press, 2014), the persistence of soldiers and activists of color forced the Truman administration to bar discrimination in the military. Even then, however, it took continued agitation -- and the military crisis of the early days of the Korean War -- to force the army to allow black soldiers to fight alongside their white brothers-in-arms. Let Us Fight as Free Men illuminates how agitation for Civil Rights did not begin with the Brown decision in 1954 or the Montgomery Bus Boycott several years later, but was a long-term struggle with its roots in the Second World War.

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