Private Bert Babero describes the inequality and racism present in the U.S. Army in this letter to Truman Gibson, Civilian Aide to the Secretary of War.
"I had... to observe a sign in the latrine, actually segregating a section of the latrine for Negro soldiers, the other being used by the German prisoners and the white soldiers."
Co. A 66th. Med. Trg. Bn.
Camp Barkeley, Texas
Feb. 13th, 1944
Atty. Truman K. Gibson
Civilian Aide to Secy. Of War
Dear Mr. Gibson:
Your letter of the 20th was received and I must say it was received most cordially. It proved evident that you are interested in acquiring equality in army camps.
Camp Barkeley is one of the largest army camps in Texas and the only Medical Replacement Training Center in the south.
We, approximately two hundred of us, were the first Colored to be stationed here, now however, there are roughly over five hundred of us.
The latter of which will replace us since our training is nearing completion.
None of our commissioned officers are Colored despite the fact that located here are Officer Candidate and Medical Administration schools.
There are relatively few of our boys who attend these schools and those who are fortunate to finish are immediately shipped to Ft. Huachuca or elsewhere.
Up until a few weeks ago, we could attend only one theater out of five on the post.
This theater was an open air theater which we could only attend when the weather was favorable.
By protest, we acquired the right to attend any theater of our choice but are forced to contend with being segregated.
We have buses which are local and those that run to and from camp, on the local buses we are compelled to sit in the back, threaten by the drivers if we refuse.
Despite the fact that buses run all day back and forth to camp at regular one half hour intervals, we have only three which we may ride.
Our buses are crowded to the extent that it is practically impossible to close the doors and yet extra buses has been refused us.
The camp provides army buses that carry soldiers to town but we aren't allowed to ride them.
Our sector is completely ostracized from the camp proper so we rarely see the other group.
Our living quarters are terrible being formerly C.C.C. barracks, located just in from of the camp cess pool.
When I first arrived, our sector actually looked like a garbage dump in comparison with the rest of the camp.
We spent three weeks cleaning the place before we could begin training.
There is also a quarter master outfit stationed near us, this outfit was here at least six months before we arrived.
It consist of no lest than nine companies.
These nine companies, including our two, are forced to use a small post-exchange capable of conveniently servicing no lest than three companies the most.
The nearest post-office is the other side of the camp: approximately 2 1/2 miles away. We have one service club shared by both divisions. It is poorly equipped having nothing but writing tables, a pingpong table and a piano. We donít have a library, a chapel or a chaplain. We conduct our own services in one of the poorly constructed class rooms. We have had Joe Louis to give a boxing exhibition and two dances in the three months Iíve been here. We were told that if we wanted entertainment we would have to provide it ourselves.
It was to my amazement, a short time ago, when I had the opportunity of visiting the German concentration camp here at Barkeley to observe a sign in the latrine, actually segregating a section of the latrine for Negro soldiers, the other being used by the German prisoners and the white soldiers. Seeing this was honestly disheartening. It made me feel, here, the tyrant is actually placed over the liberator.