Racial Tensions in the Military

Racism, Unrest, and Resistance

Those That Served >> Racial Tensions in the Military >> Racism, Unrest, and Resistance
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Fox, Sylvan. "War and Prejudice: A Negro Family Embittered." New York Times, March 23, 1968, p. 33.

The Williams family received bad news one day in early 1968, and it only got worse. First Augustus and Evelyn Williams received a letter from their daughter-in-law, Margarita, in Frankfurt, Germany telling them that she and their son, Elvin, could not find an apartment because German landlords and owners were telling them, "If you were three-quarters white, I would give you the apartment." Later in the same day, the Williams' received word that their other son, Frederick, was missing in action in Vietnam. Three days later it was confirmed that indeed, he had been killed. To add insult to injury his body was held up in Oakland, California for several weeks and any attempt made by the family to return the body resulted in apathy at best and outright hostility at worst. Later a military representative assured the family that everything was being done to expidite the return of their son's body and that an official apology was forthcoming. Elvin, who had been denied housing in Germany stated that, "I'm not angry against the Germans. It's just the United States I'm angry against." (For not enforcing their Equal Opportunity in Off-Post Housing policy). Augustus Williams, the father, said, "I don't preach violence, but I'm coming to believe it's the only way my boys can get what they want. If it takes violence for my boys to get what they want -- that's what has to be. But I'm hoping there's a better channel than that."

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