Today many Americans salute the courage and bravery of those who have served in the US Armed Forces. But, if we were to be honest, the images and stories we see and hear most prominently are those of white soldiers. The Association for the Study of African American Life and History (ASALH) in conjunction with the Veteran’s Project hopes to change that.
The Veteran’s Project was established in 2000 by the United States Congress to preserve and make accessible the personal accounts of American war veterans. The ASALH partnered with the Veteran’s Project to ensure that the voices of African-American veterans were represented as well. In 2008, the Manasota, Florida branch of the ASALH appointed a committee to launch a Veteran’s History Project in the area which resulted in a partnership with the Ringling College of Art and Design. Individual veterans of color were filmed and then filmmaker Mark Parry was brought in to direct the team. Out of this thirty-one interviews of male and female veterans of color were conducted, the completed versions sent to the Library of Congress, and DVDs were distributed to each of the veterans. But, before too long, it was realized that the interviews contained major themes that could help a broader audience understand the adversity that people of color faced not only in general but in the particularity of military service. Theirs is a narrative of a disparate nature compared to those of their white counterparts. The documentary contains firsthand accounts of African-Americans who served on the frontline for their country but were often relegated to the back of the military’s concern and, therefore, the rear of the American consciousness. With this in mind the “Veterans of Color” documentary was born, funding was approved in 2010, and the film was completed in 2012. The documentary has garnered film festival awards, been shown in select theaters, and had its premiere on TVOne last year.
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