About 2,000 African American soldiers took part in the invasion on June 6, 1944. Thousands more came ashore in the following weeks. The soldiers are usually left out of portrayals of the invasion.
African American D-Day Veterans (02:43)
Veterans explain their roles on D-Day. Some drove amphibious vehicles and others operated barrage balloons.
Military Segregation (05:09)
Most African Americans were limited to support roles. Black and white soldiers trained separately. For soldiers from the North, it was their first experience of the Jim Crow south.
Soldiers in England (06:09)
More than 132,000 African Americans soldiers arrived for the buildup to D-Day. The soldiers experienced less discrimination from locals, while facing racism from white officers and other white soldiers.
African American Soldiers on LCIs (04:24)
African American soldiers volunteered for combat roles but were denied. The soldiers spent three days on the boats sailing for Normandy.
African American Soldiers on D-Day (07:52)
African American soldiers recount their fears as they reached the beaches of Normandy. They had to keep moving despite high causalities.
Desegregation on D-Day (04:06)
In the chaos and desperation, segregation was dropped. All African American barrage balloon battalions protected the soldiers on the beaches. Black medics were permitted to treat white soldiers.
On the Beaches (05:15)
Once on the beaches, African American soldiers were tasked with collecting the dead. Others were part of the ferrying crew, getting supplies to shore. African American soldiers continued to face discrimination from white officers.
African American Soldiers after D-Day (04:13)
By the Battle of the Bugle, African American soldiers were asked to join combat units. Soldiers returned home, where racial discrimination had not changed. The military desegregated in 1948.
Credits: A Distant Shore: African Americans of D-Day (00:21)
Credits: A Distant Shore: African Americans of D-Day
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