November 10, 2023
29.2% of Black men and 16.9% of Black women are currently enlisted in the service
African Americans have a storied past with the United States military dating back to the Revolutionary War. In 1861 when the Civil War sparked. Enslaved men who were considered subhuman by the federal government were given the opportunity to defend “their” country against the Confederate Army. According to the National Archives, around 200,000 Black men served the Union Army and the US Navy, 179,000 and 19,000, respectively. Roughly, 38,000 of those men “died, the majority of disease,” while Black survivors of the war returned to an oppressive, racist reality albeit emancipated.
Some 80 years later, over one million Black women and men would go on to register to volunteer and serve the US during World War II. Postwar, Black troops and battalions who risked their lives in combat would return to a nation that subjected its Black citizens to segregation and lynching.
During the Civil Rights movement, African American men were drafted to fight in the Vietnam War at a disproportionate rate: “64 percent of all eligible African-Americans were drafted, but only 31 percent of eligible whites,” Amistad Resource documented. In one year alone, 1965-66, Black service members were casualties of the war at twice the rate of whites. The National Archive lists the number of fallen Black veterans at 7,243. Many of those service men who made it home from the were devalued and disenfranchised and faced financial and mental health challenges.
The impact of more contemporary wars is no better than the ones that precede them. However, 29.2% of Black men and 16.9% of Black women are currently enlisted in the service according to Statista.
Military service isn’t for the faint at heart. After all, it’s a huge responsibility that takes bravery and commitment. On this Veterans Day, BLACK ENTERPRISE recognizes the officers, soldiers, sailors who serve our country and humankind in the face of white supremacy and racism.
We salute you.
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