HBO’s lily white world war


(NNPA)—Cable television’s largest movie channel, HBO, has proudly shown two fictitious (they want you to believe it is a documentary) classics about World War II. “Band of Brothers” dealt with the European Theater and now “Pacific” is portraying the battles of the Pacific from a very racist point of view. Despite the fact that hundreds of thousands of African-Americans gave their blood, sweat and tears to this noble challenge these shows are void of any Black participation.

That is just one big lie! A lie that is racist to the core and we must call them out. They are trying to rewrite history to the detriment of Black legacy and pride and that is more than sinful. It is a crime.

The fact is that from the first day of Pearl Harbor to the very end we were there in all theaters and during every major battle. Yes, just like in all other major wars the United States could not have prevailed in World War II if it weren’t for the efforts of Black military participants.

Recently, HBO showed a segment of “Pacific” dealing with the Battle of Guadalcanal. Funny, they showed no Blacks. My two uncles, Joseph and Isaiah Brown were there and they had many stories to tell about it. I have a copy of a letter my Uncle Joe wrote to my grandmother from his foxhole. It is so sentimental and I cherish it so much. He would also tell me about his days in Melbourne, Australia, which the HBO segment showed.

He remembered a great breakfast of T-bone steak, eggs and a side plate of biscuits all for just nine cents. En route to the Solomon Islands, my Uncle Ike was thrown off his ship during a storm. They barely rescued him and his buddies.

My father-in-law, Charles DeBow, was one of the original four Tuskegee Airmen. He knocked out tanks in North Africa, Nazi artillery in Italy and radar sites in France in preparation of the invasion of Normandy. They want us to think that the Tuskegee Airmen only ran protection for our bombers. Dad flew a P-38 dive bomber and flew missions almost daily. I am so proud to have his blood flowing through the veins of my sons.

One of my mentors, the late Arthur A. Fletcher, crossed Normandy Beach. There were over 40,000 Blacks who crossed during the Normandy Invasion unlike what Steven Spielberg and HBO want you to believe. While performing guard duty one night in Northern France, Art was shot through his spleen. He would proudly show me the 12-inch scar to prove it.

His racist superiors would not put him in for a Purple Heart because they claim that since the bullet went completely through him they had no proof if it were a Nazi bullet or just a bullet from one of those red neck 3rd Army bigots trying to shoot them a nigger.

Another mentor of mine, the late Leroy Toombs, served in a submarine in the Pacific. Our Pacific submarines decimated Japanese supply lines and Leroy loved to talk about their exploits. One morning they sunk three ships within 20 minutes, probably a record. They had so many prisoners they couldn’t take any more. Thus, they had to surface and shoot all survivors as they could so they couldn’t divulge their coordinates to the Japanese Navy. Yes, war is hell.

The late Congressman Parren J. Mitchell, another mentor of mine, had his World War II stories also. Parren was a bona fide hero. One day he deliberately fell on a live German grenade during a battle in Italy in order to save three other soldiers. Well, they gave him his Purple Heart, unlike Art, but he really deserved the Medal of Honor. There are thousands of these stories about our brave African-Americans who served their country so well even though they had to return to a Jim Crow society. They were strong and proud. Even though they were discriminated against as they wore their uniforms with battle decorations they remained strong.

So brilliant was the service of our tank battalions, paratroopers, airmen, soldiers, sailors and marines. It was like we do on basketball courts and football fields today. These heroes paved the road that Gen. Colin Powell and others would follow. I am a proud veteran but not a minute will pass that I don’t forget the great Blacks who came before my time and created this great legacy. This is why I am so upset at HBO. These portrayals of World War II are big, racist lies and they are trying to do a very dastardly thing—rewrite history to the detriment of a whole race. We need to organize and have them removed from television.

(Harry C. Alford is the co-founder, president and CEO of the National Black Chamber of Commerce. Website: E-mail:


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