Missing American History Lessons: They Had Me Standing on the Front Line

My Uncle

I am a veteran of the war
I up and joined the army back in 1964
At sixteen I just had to be a man at any cost
I volunteered for Vietnam where I got my leg shot off
I recall a quote from a movie that said “who’s more a man
Than a man with a reason that’s worth dyin’ for”

They had me standing on the front line
They had me standing on the front line
They had me standing on the front line
But now I stand at the back of the line when it comes to gettin’ ahead

-“Front Line” by Stevie Wonder

In today’s lesson we learn that a disproportionate number of Black service men were killed during the Vietnam Conflict, about 12.4 percent. Some figures suggest that Black men made up only about 11% of the total young male population at the time.

Just for perspective, these 18 and 19 year olds, would probably be described today as kids.


Just like prior Black veterans of war, Black Vietnam soldiers fought, and many of them died, on foreign soil for freedoms that they did not have back home in America.

In Vietnam, Blacks were also disproportionately placed on the “front line,” putting them at even greater risk for injury and death.

You can find this information in the article linked below by Dr. Helen Black.

A good friend of mine, who served in Vietnam, reported that the Vietcong set up high-powered speakers in the jungle where they broadcasted messages directed to Black soldiers.

They’d say, “Black man, why you fighting here, you don’t have freedom in your own home!”

Can you imagine how they must’ve felt hearing that while continuing to fight?

My friend went on to say that these broadcasts did give the soldiers pause.

At any rate…

Here’s an article published by the Gerontological Society of America, and written by Dr. Helen K. Black, that details experiences of Black soldiers of Vietnam, Korea and World War II.

I can’t say that I agree with every word, but then again, I am not a scholar on the subject.

Hey! For fun, go research health and wealth outcomes for the Black soldiers returing from Vietnam.

Not saying that it was easy for the White soldier…

But White soldiers are not the focus of today’s lesson.

By the way, remind me to tell you about my uncle, who is pictured above.

He was a Vietnam veteran who ultimately died of old age at 34 .

Sadly, he was the lone survivor of a racist attack on five little boys when he was about 7 or 8 years old.

It never made the news.

The killer lived his best life without any consequences. At. ALL.

“Why should they ask me to put on a uniform and go 10,000 miles from home and drop bombs and bullets on Brown people in Vietnam while so-called Negro people in Louisville are treated like dogs and denied simple human rights? No I’m not going 10,000 miles from home to help murder and burn another poor nation simply to continue the domination of white slave masters of the darker people the world over. This is the day when such evils must come to an end. I have been warned that to take such a stand would cost me millions of dollars. But I have said it once and I will say it again. The real enemy of my people is here. I will not disgrace my religion, my people or myself by becoming a tool to enslave those who are fighting for their own justice, freedom and equality. If I thought the war was going to bring freedom and equality to 22 million of my people they wouldn’t have to draft me, I’d join tomorrow. I have nothing to lose by standing up for my beliefs. So I’ll go to jail, so what? We’ve been in jail for 400 years.”

-Muhammad Ali

Class dismissed!

Lady G loves YOU!

7 thoughts on “Missing American History Lessons: They Had Me Standing on the Front Line

  1. Your poor uncle!!! I will read the Helen Black article. LOVE Muhammad Ali’s quote, and his stance!! I knew he was a Conscientious Objector. More power to such people! Thank you for all your educative efforts, G!!! ❤

    Liked by 1 person

    1. You’re welcome:)
      Just so you know, Ron and I will be discussing the “Black Codes” in our next audio.
      You can trace a lot of the problems that Blacks have had in gaining an equal socioeconomic footing back to these kinds of laws that basically kept us in some form of “slavery.”

      I hope you’ll give it a listen at your leisure. Share it with people you know–particularly White people who are open to learning more about us.

      I should be posting it tomorrow.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I’m sorry to hear what happened to your uncle. It is shocking and sad and shouldn’t be happening in a ‘civilised’ country.

    And that is terrible about black soldiers being used disproportionately during those wars (I had no idea about that one), and also that normal freedom was denied them back home… It made me think about how it must have been for the black soldiers during WW2 who were good enough to deploy but not good enough to have the same freedoms as their white ‘counterparts’. To think that these brave men travelled to another continent to fight Nazism only to come back home and face it under another guise.

    All the best to you Lady G xo

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh thank you so much my love for such a sweet and thoughtful response.
      Yes, it is true that Black vets, especially in the South, were very limited in the places that they could live or even work due to discriminatory practices.
      Thanks for your kind words about my Uncle. His life was brief and tragic.
      All the best to you too darling 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

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