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AfriGeneas Military Research Forum Archive

Patriots of Color

ONE AFRICAN-AMERICAN FAMILY'S DEDICATION TO THEIR COUNTRY DURING "THE GOOD WAR" BROUGHT THEM DISASTER, PAIN, AND ULTIMA'TE SACRIFICE. YET TO THEM, IT WAS A NECESSARY STEP, PART OF THEIR EFFORTS TOWARDS A BETTER LIFE AND A BETTER WORLD.

By WESLEY PHILLIPS NEWTON

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WHEN THE DREADED YELLOW TELEGRAM marked "War Department" arrived at the home of Sherman and Nettie White in Montgomery, they braced for the worst. Thousands of families had been through it, black and white, rich and poor, all over the world. But this was their family. Their son. For weeks, they had lived the nightmare of knowing that their boy was missing in action. And now the waiting was over. "The War Department regrets to inform you...." First Lieutenant Sherman W. White Jr. died a hero's death. The dashing young pilot, one of the famous Tuskegee Airmen, had been shot down by German fighters as his squadron provided air support for the Allied invasion of Sicily. Young Sherman died defending a "democratic" society badly flawed with regards to the acceptance and treatment of his race. But black and white Americans alike had died at Pearl Harbor. And black families would join white in defending their homeland. Internal troubles would have to wait.

SHERMAN WHITE SR. WAS A SECOND GRADE teacher when he married Nettie Deal in 1916 in Noxubee County, Mississippi, near the Alabama state line. Like many black teachers in the South, he had no formal training, just elementary and high school. On-the-job training would have to do. As they watched their neighbors struggle to squeeze a living out of meager farms, Sherman and Nettie were determined to give their children the education that would mean a better life. In the years immediately after World War I, a restlessness among Americans inspired a demographic shift out of villages, small towns, and rural areas into larger population centers. In 1922, Sherman and Nettie chose Montgomery as a place to resettle with their first tWo children, Willa and Sherman Jr. Still highly segregated and racially stratified, Montgomery was no paradise for African Americans. But in the two decades after the Great War, it offered more opportunity for employment and education than Noxubee County.

(to be continued)
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Source: Alabama Heritage Journal

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Patriots of Color
Re: Patriots of Color
Re: Patriots of Color

18 Dec 2002 :: 14 Nov 2008
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