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"Choc'late Soldiers" Tells Tale Of African Americans During WWII

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A trio of recruits in training to take their places as fighting Leathernecks in the U.S. Marine Corps, run the rugged obstacle course at Camp Lejeune, NC, Montford Point Camp. April 1943.
The National Archives
A trio of recruits in training to take their places as fighting Leathernecks in the U.S. Marine Corps, run the rugged obstacle course at Camp Lejeune, NC, Montford Point Camp. April 1943.

By Stephanie Kaye

Ushering in Veterans Day, a new film explores the experiences of African Americans serving in World War II.

"My unit went into the Normandy invasion and we didn't have any bullets in our rifles," says John Wood, who was 17-years-old when he enlisted. "We hadn't been issued any ammunition!"

Wood is one of the veterans featured in "Choc'late Soldiers from the USA ," which is being presented by the National Museum of African American History and Culture.

The film's writer/producer, Gregory Cooke, says Jim Crow followed him and others to Britain.

"When you're wearing the uniform of your country and you can't be served in a restaurant, but German prisoners-of-war are being served in the restaurant, that does something to you," says Cooke.

Lonnie Bunch, the museum's director, says soldiers returning from Europe played a major part in the civil rights movement.

"This is a different slice of the military story," says Bunch. "Many of these people came home and said, 'No. I not only fought for victory against Germany and Japan; I fought for victory against racism and discrimination.'"

"Choc'late Soldiers from the USA" airs Tuesday, November 10 at the Hirshhorn Museum on the National Mall. Click here to see a trailer of the documentary.

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