Black Americans in the Military: Did You Know These Facts?
Air Force Veteran Beats Breast Cancer11/10/2021
Telling Her Story: Black Women in Military Fill Gaps in History11/10/2021
By AMBER HUDSON
There are about 311,600 Black female veterans.
First graves at Arlington National Cemetery were dug by James Parks (1843-1929), who was born enslaved on the Custis-Lee plantation. He spent his entire life living and working on the Arlington property.
First Black soldier buried at Arlington Cemetery was Private William Henry Christman, who died of measles at Lincoln General Hospital on Capitol Hill. He was interred in 1864.
Nearly 4,000 former slaves are buried at Arlington National Cemetery.
General Benjamin O. Davis, Sr. in 1940 was appointed as the first Black General in the U.S. Army. Since then nearly 400 other African American women and men have achieved that rank.
Henry Flipper in 1877 was the first Black graduate of the U.S. Military Academy at West Point.
Wesley Anthony Brown in 1944 was the first Black man to graduate from the U.S. Naval Academy.
Merle Smith in 1966 was the first Black person to graduate from the Coast Guard Academy.
Charles V. Bush in 1963 was the first person to graduate from the Air Force Academy in 1963.
Guion Bluford in 1983 became the first Black astronaut to be part of a space mission.
Mae C. Jemison in 1992 became the first Black woman astronaut to serve on a mission.
A total of 90 Black individuals have been awarded the Medal of Honor, which is the highest military honor in the United States. Most times the award is presented posthumously. Robert Augustus Sweeney is the only African American to receive two Medals of Honor.
An estimated 1.8 million Purple Hearts have been awarded to veterans of all backgrounds. The honor is awarded in the name of the President to those wounded or killed while serving with the U.S. military. The famous Tuskegee Airmen were awarded eight.
There are several movies that pay homage to Black Veterans:
- “Da 5 Bloods” – 2020
- “Red Tails” – 2012
- “Men of Honor” – 2000
- “A Soldier’s Story” – 1984
- “Miracle at Santa Anna” – 2008
- “The Hurt Locker” – 2008
- “Glory” – 1989