Holocaust Center to Feature Stories of WWII African-American Soldiers
The Holocaust Center in Maitand has announced the opening of their new exhibit, The Civil Rights Struggle, African-American GIs, and Germany. A reception is scheduled for Sunday September 23 at 2 PM, and will feature Dr. Alzo Reddick, the Director of Special Programs and Defense Transition Services at UCF. Special guests will include two local Tuskegee Airmen, Daniel Keel of Clermont and Robert Hall Jr. of Maitland.
One of the many nearly-forgotten stories of the Holocaust is the history of African-American GIs who served overseas. They were often given the most mundane work assignments and most risky missions, fighting against Hitler’s racism while painfully aware of the Jim Crow laws at home.
A new exhibit, which opens at the Holocaust Center on September 15, is on loan from the Heidelberg (Germany) Center for American Studies. Its photographs and text provide a unique perspective on the impact that the war had on soldiers, communities and nations. Service in the war shook up the patterns of social and economic segregation, and gave African-American solders a glimpse of a different world. For many African Americans, the encounter with Germany left a deep impression, one that gave them the fire and the experience to devote themselves to the growing civil rights movement at home.
A series of other events will support the message of the exhibit. On Wednesday October 17 at 6 PM
Teachers’ Forum will explore the experience of African-American GIs and its impact on the civil rights struggle in America, presented by the Holocaust Center’s Resource Teacher Mitchell Bloomer.
On Wednesday, November 7 at 7 PM, Father Nelson Pinder will be speaking at the Holocaust Center. Rector for 37 years of the Episcopal Church of St. John the Baptist, the “Street Priest of Orlando” took a leading role in the campaign for civil rights in Orlando. He will be discussing his experiences as “What Did We Do in Orlando?”
Thursday December 13 the Orange County Regional History Center‘s Artist & Author series will feature a presentation by Osha Gray Davidson, author of The Best of Enemies: Race & Redemption in the New South. His award-winning book sheds light on how C.P. Ellis (a poor white member of the KKK) and Ann Atwater (a poor black civil rights activist) went from being hostile enemies to forming a respectful, long-lasting friendship.
The Wells’Built Museum of African-American history and Culture will also be hosting special events during the exhibit, including a presentation by Rep. Geraldine Thompson about the desegregation of Orange County Schools and a screening of a documentary, including behind-the-scenes insights, about Red Tails, the history of the Tuskegee Airmen.
More information about the programs can be found at www.holocaustedu.org.