By INGRID WILGEN
During World War II the fight for equality drove many African-Americans into military service.
This historical narrative of the African-American experience in the U.S. Armed Forces is told in a recently released book by history Adjunct Isaac Hampton.
“Many thought ‘they can’t deny me equal rights if I die for them, if I serve them, if I fight for them,’” he said Tuesday in an interview.
The book is the culmination of Hampton’s research for a capstone research paper when he studied for a master’s degree from Texas Southern University.
The paper highlighting views of black officers and their experiences in the ROTC began a seven-year journey that ended with a book: “The Black Officer Corps: a History of Black Military Advancement from Integration through Vietnam.” The book documents African-American military history from 1946-1973.
The voices of African-American officers and soldiers who served this country line the pages with oral accounts that may have been lost had it not been for Hampton’s pen.
Hampton’s research led him to the National Archives at College Park, Md. While there, he said he found a glaring hole in the literature.
“When I went to the national archives to do research, one of the long-time archivists said, ‘Isaac, what you are looking for is not going to be in any archives — this is too much of an embarrassment to the institution to write it down.’”
Hampton said he knew he had captured the voices of African-Americans who have served under the shadow of American apartheid.
The book focuses on the African-American officers’ experience and documents how the Black Power movement influenced African-Americans serving during the Vietnam era.
Hampton an Urbana, Ohio, native, obtained a Ph.D in 20th century U.S. history from the University of Houston in 2008.
He served in the U.S. Army from 1988-1991 and currently is the command historian for U.S. Army South. As command historian, Hampton writes living history.
Hampton has performed more than 300 oral interviews that encompasses civil rights advocates from the 1960s, soldiers, Marines and airmen ranging from the lowest rank to generals and admirals.
Hampton has been invited to speak at this college Feb. 26 during Black History Month.
The book, published by Routledge, is available at Amazon.com, www.routledge.com and on the shelves at Barnes & Noble.