The African American quest for social equality and protection in America continues to fuel a similar desire for others across the globe.  Once known as the Double Victory (or Double V Campaigns), Black servicemen and women risked their lives to courageously protect and liberate the dispossessed.  Black men and women have served valiantly in every conflict in American history in the nation’s pursuit of both independence and global power.  Their service has helped define the personhood of Africans in America and actualize the belief in the inalienable rights upon which the nation would later be founded. 

For instance, roughly 8,000 Africans in the colonies served in the Patriots (British) Army with valor during the Revolutionary War.  Among them were Crispus Attucks, Peter Salem and James Armistead Lafayette, who were promised freedom in exchange for fighting on behalf of the Crown.   

Their commitment to the cause of freedom and personhood came as colony leaders, victorious in their pursuit of independence, tabulated their political and social value with the 3/5ths Compromise (1787).  This agreement allowed the enslaved to be counted as 3/5 of a person for both representation and taxation. The Compromise also decreed the end of the international slave trade — after two decades (until 1808) and charged the federal government with returning runaway slaves (fugitive laborers) throughout the country.  

Black enlisted faced discrimination and racism from within as documented by U.S. Major General H.E. Ely’s assessment of Black ‘manpower’ in 1925.  Ely stereotyped Blacks as an incapable sub-species who were inherently weak in character, natural cowards, and disloyal – making them poor servicemen.  Still, Black soldiers proved their bravery and might, receiving honors stateside and abroad. 

Despite social obstacles, African Americans eagerly answered the call to serve: More than 180,000 in the Civil War, over 700,000 registered for military service to fight in World War I, more than 1 million during WWII, 600,000 African Americans served in the armed forces during the Korean War, an estimated 300,000 served in the Vietnam War – totaling 31 percent of the ground combat battalions in Vietnam, and according to the Department of Defense, active-duty service members numbered 1,319,283; of those, 227,974, or 17.3 percent, were African American, as of December 2021.

The Washington Informer honors those who served our nation so courageously and thank them for their service.

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