AVC Celebrates Black History Month
Over the years at AVC we have collected numerous stories of black patriots, many of whose stories have historically been overlooked. In honor of Black History Month, we have gathered various clips paying tribute to our nation’s African American heroes, from the American Revolution through today.
Crispus Attucks is known as one of the first “Invisible Black Patriots” of the American Revolution. Attucks was a former slave and was the first killed at the Boston Massacre.
The First Rhode Island Regiment
The First Rhode Island Regiment became known as the “Black Regiment” because of its several companies of African American soldiers. Slaves that enlisted were to be free men following their service in the Revolutionary War.
Louisiana Native Guards
The 1st Louisiana Native Guard was a Confederate militia of free colored men formed in New Orleans. These men proved that they could not be overlooked as powerful, reliable soldiers.
The 54th Massachusetts Infantry Regiment
As one of the first official African American units during the American Civil War, the 54th Massachusetts Infantry Regiment saw extensive service throughout the conflict.
The Buffalo Soldiers & Lt. Henry Flipper
The 9th and 10th Calvary Regiments of the U.S. Army, nicknamed the “Buffalo Soldiers,” were comprised of African Americans tasked with guarding the American Western frontier. Lieutenant Henry Flipper was born a slave in 1854 and would become the first black graduate of West Point.
Buffalo Soldiers in the Spanish American War
In addition to their efforts defending the American West, the “Buffalo Soldiers” saw great action during the Spanish American War, fighting alongside the rough riders and proving to be significant in the charging of San Juan Hill.
The men of the 369th Infantry Regiment, formerly known as the 15th New York National Guard Regiment, saw some of the greatest action throughout the First and Second World Wars. Their perseverance and acts of valor earned them the nicknames “Men of Bronze” from their French allies and “Harlem Hellfighters” from their German opponents.
Pvt. Henry Johnson & Needham Roberts
Two of the most famed members of the 369th Infantry Regiment, Johnson and Roberts displayed extraordinary valor and were awarded the French “Croix de Guerre” as well as the Medal of Honor.
The 92nd Infantry Division
The 92nd Infantry Division was a segregated unit, and was the only African American infantry division that saw combat during World War II, serving in the Italian campaign.
The Tuskegee Airmen
The famed all African American fighter squadron was crucial in breaking the air combat color barrier, achieving success in the air over the European theater of WWII.
The 332nd Expeditionary Fighter Squadron
The valor and success of the Tuskegee Airmen paved the war for the eventual desegregation of American armed forces. Within the Tuskegee Airmen, the 332nd Fighter Squadron earned and impressive combat record that would continue after World War II.
The 761st Black Panther Tank Battalion
Nicknamed the “Black Panther Battalion,” the 761st Tank Battalion saw some of the greatest action of the European Theater during the Second World War, including the Battle of the Bulge.
Mary McLeod Bethune
A child of former slaves, Dr. Bethune became advisor to four presidents and is recognized as one of the greatest advocates for education and human rights.
The Montford Point Marines
The first African American Marines Division trained at Camp Montford Point in North Carolina, and would go on to see combat and work at supply points throughout the Pacific theater. Their achievements in World War II, despite discrimination, paved the way for a desegregated military.
Executive Order 9981
Issued by President Harry Truman in 1948, Executive Order 9981 desegregated the U.S. Armed Forces – a monumental moment for African American patriots. Desegregation of the military would help pave the way for desegregation on the home front.
Robert Smalls was born into slavery, but during and after the American Civil War became the pilot and sea captain of the USS Planter, and eventually became a politician. Smalls freed himself from slavery as well as his crew and their families. He was crucial in paving the way for African American Naval Officers and leaders of the future.
Lawrence Joel, Specialist 6
Lawrence Joel served in the Korean and Vietnam wars with the U.S. Army, and would receive the Medal of Honor for valor in Vietnam. Despite being wounded, he saved the lives of many members of his unit.
General Colin Powell
American statesmen and retired four-star U.S. Army General, Colin Powell was also the first African American to serve on the Joint Chiefs of Staff.