A Letter to Negro Soldiers (1954)

This letter was entered into the U.S. Congressional Record in a 1954 Hearing.

Negro Soldiers:

Did you ever stop to think why you should be in Korea, fighting other colored people, while lynchings, murders and insults pile up against the Negro people at home?

They tell you you are defending freedom here. What kind of freedom?

Since the Korean war began there have been more lynchings and killings in all parts of the country than ever before. . . . Morris Scott, shot by a white man at Linden, Ala; Samuel Ellis, Philadelphia Navy veteran shot by a rookie cop in a subway.... Willie Carlisle, beaten to death by a cop at Opelika, Ala .... Sam Jones, San Pedro, Calif, construction worker beaten to death by another cop... . Willie McGee put on the electric chair in Mississippi on a frame-up charge.... Harry T. Moore, NAACP leader, bombed in his bed by the Klan in Florida. These are only a few, from the South and the North, the East and the West.

They tell you'll come nearer to equality by fighting in the Korean war. They always do that when the time comes to face the guns. Its a lie!

The only place you can fight for equality is at home.

Here are some facts, right from the army, right from Korea. Lieut. Leon Gilbert, Negro officer of the 24th Infantry regiment was un-fairly court-martialled and sentenced to death and 60 other soldiers got sentences of from 5 years to life.... Frank Whisonant, Pittsburgh Courier reporter wrote that "99 and nine-tenths of men tried before court-martials in Korea are Negro soldiers".... Thurgood Marshall, leader of the National Urban League wrote that "in spite of continued protests, the U.S. army has shown no indication of fundamentally altering its Jim-Crow policy in Korea."

Does the U.S. government, the government of your country, give you proper representation? There are 96 white Senators and not one Negro. There are 435 Congressmen of whom only two are Negroes. And how many Negro citizens have been killed and beaten just for daring to vote! So much for your rights at home.

And in the armed services the dice are loaded the same way. As long ago as 1947, President Truman's own Civil Rights Committee admitted:

" ....in the Army, less than one Negro in 70 is commissioned, while there is one white officer for approximately every seven enlisted men. In the Navy there are only two Negro officers; there are 58,571 white officers. The Marine Corps has 7,798 officers not one of whom is a Negro.... the records show that the members of several minorities, fighting and dying for the nation in which they meet bitter prejudice, found that there was discrimination against them even as they fell in battle."

Both you and the white troops are waiting for rotation. Rotation is a racket and a run-around for both. But for you, it's more so. Both in the European Theater and in Korea, it is well known that Negro soldiers have more trouble getting enough points to go home.

What do you think this means to you? Don't you see that this war against the colored people of Korea is the same kind of dirty business as discrimination against you—that it's based on the idea that colored people have no right to exist unless they bow down to someone, that they can be killed if they dare to stand up for their rights? A petition to the United Nations by American Negro leaders put this plainly: "White supremacy at home makes for colored massacres abroad. Both reveal contempt for life in a colored skin. Jellied gasoline in Korea and lynching at home are connected."

Negro soldiers!

We don't say that you shouldn't be loyal to the United States. It's your own country. But your fight is at home, alongside labor and the peace movement, for equal rights. It's not your business to come here and fight other colored people for Big Business profits.

We are not trying to turn you against the white soldiers. They are in the same boat as you. They are sent here to be killed for the Big Money, for Big Business profits like you are. We think that you, having been oppressed, can understand this more quickly than they do. But many of them are beginning to understand it too.

We say:

No U.S. soldiers have any business in Korea. Korea for the Koreans. China for the Chinese. America for Americans, Negro and white.

We say:

Americans, black and white, unite and fight for peace!

The Chinese and Koreans are fighting for their own homes and borders. We didn't come five thousand miles across the sea to fight. We didn't come to America with guns and bombs and we never will. Don't risk your lives here. Ask to go home where you can fight for your own rights as a human being. Leave us at peace in our homes here.

Your friends,



Back To History Is A Weapon's Front Page

Our Amnesia Only Serves The Masters