ROTW: “Teamwork”: African-American Soldiers during World War II

Today’s record was submitted by Kevin L. Bradley, Archives Technician in the Motion Picture, Sound, and Video Division at the National Archives in College Park, Maryland


Why We Fight is a series of short films commissioned by the US government during World War II to convince Americans to fight and to support the war effort.  The films were directed by Frank Capra and featured interviews with foot soldiers, Army recruits, Pentagon personnel, decorated veterans, Congressmen, national security advisers, and top military strategists.  Participants in the film discussed the core philosophies of American military strategy and how they changed since the end of the Second World War.

The film Teamwork (NAID 36078) from the Orientation Films, 1942-1949 (NAID 36066) series is a great film to gain a basic understanding on interracial cooperation within the US Army.  The first reel shows white and black troops who participated in the landing on a beach at Normandy, as well as bringing supplies ashore in amphibious trucks, stringing telephone wire, using mine detectors, unloading supplies at a port, and driving supplies to the front.  In the second reel, viewers can watch African-American truck drivers receive medals for bravery and the 332nd Fighter Squadron (Negro) planes protect B-17s over Germany.

Teamwork is a joy to watch.  African-American soldiers had an opportunity to show the world that they were intelligent, and as brave as white soldiers.  Even though they were mistreated, black soldiers still loved and died for their country.  The life lesson in this film is “no matter what you are going through, always give your best.”

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