Our Colored Heroes
Host Tukufu Zuberi switched roles for this story and brought a question of his own to History Detectives.
Tukufu collects posters featuring African Americans in combat. One in particular intrigues him. Titled Our Colored Heroes, the poster tells an incredible World War I story. A raiding party of more than 20 Germans attacked two African American doughboys on sentry duty. The poster quotes General Pershing who praises the two colored sentries who ‘continued fighting after receiving wounds and despite the use of grenades by a superior force.’
Did all of this actually happen? And why was this poster made? Tukufu, along with fellow History Detectives host Elyse Luray track down the truth, and call on the insight of U.S. Senator Charles Schumer to answer Tukufu’s question.
Tukufu’s story “Our Colored Heroes” struck a chord with many of you. Several asked how they could join in the effort to honor the person central to Tukufu’s poster, WWI Sgt. Henry Johnson.
In his research Tukufu learned that US Senator Charles Schumer of New York asked military leaders to posthumously present a Medal of Honor to Sgt. Johnson.
“Sergeant Henry Johnson’s heroic tale is inspiring a nation, and it’s vital that our military leaders and the President finally award Sgt. Henry Johnson this long overdue Medal of Honor,” said Schumer.
On September 19, 2014, the U.S. Senate voted unanimously to accept Sgt. Johnson's Medal of Honor application.
Special thanks to the Department of Defense and Arlington National Cemetery. Additional research provided by Tiffini Bowers.
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Society of Illustrators, American
Museum of Illustration
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