Ruth Wilson, a sheet metal worker at the Philadelphia Navy Yard in World War II. (Photo: courtesy Gregory S. Cooke/Kickstarter)
While movies like Red Tails show the impact African-American servicemen made during World War II, Black women also made their mark during the war. Unfortunately, their stories aren't typically told with as much fervor as the tales of the Tuskegee Airmen. Historian Gregory S. Cooke is trying to change that by creating a documentary that shines a light on some of these inspiring women.
Invisible Warriors: African American Women in World War II features women 83 to 105 years old who worked in war production and medical fields, provided government services, and served as volunteers for soldiers and their families. Initially, Cooke had to coax his "warriors" to open up about their past. He said they were not a group to boast their accomplishments nor the challenges they overcame as Black women in the 1940s.
"As we became friends, they began to share family pictures and wartime mementos with me," he writes. "I could see the twinkle in their eyes. I could feel their energy. My Warriors smiled when recounting how they met their husbands. Anger and tears sometimes surfaced as they recounted their battles with Jim Crow. Mostly, I saw pride when they recalled the impact that their jobs had on their future, now past, lives."
Cooke has started a Kickstarter campaign to raise $40,000 for final production, editing and other research and filming costs. To participate, visit his project's page. Invisible Warriors is scheduled for completion in mid-2013 and DVDs will be donated to educators, cultural centers and civic organizations.
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