A new, temporary exhibit commemorating the history of African American military service in North Carolina opened this weekend at the Museum of the Albemarle in Elizabeth City.
“We Wanted to Fight: Black North Carolinians in World War II,” which consists of 12 pop-up panels, opened Saturday and is set to close on May 11.
The temporary display is part of a grant project of the North Carolina Department of Military and Veterans Affairs, the North Carolina Museum of History, Elizabeth City State University School of Humanities and Social Sciences and the State Archives of North Carolina Military Collection in recognition of the African American Military and Veterans Lineage Project.
“All of our service members and veterans have a story to tell,” said North Carolina Department of Military and Veterans Affairs Secretary Walter Gaskin in a statement. “Black Americans have always answered the call to serve, and this program during Black History Month is a fitting tribute to their stories, patriotism and deep commitment to this country and to the great state of North Carolina.”
The State Archives of North Carolina preserves and makes accessible the personal accounts of North Carolina’s military veterans so future generations may hear their stories and better understand the realities of war. This project taps into the stories of African American military service members from North Carolina through a collection of interviews, correspondence, photographs and artifacts.
“Uncovering and sharing often-untold stories is at the heart of what the North Carolina Museum of History does,” said North Carolina Department of Natural and Cultural Resources Secretary Reid Wilson. “This collaboration with the North Carolina Department of Military and Veterans Affairs and the State Archives will give all North Carolinians the opportunity to learn of the proud and courageous tradition of service of Black Americans in the Armed Forces of the United States.”
To coincide with the museum display’s opening, the State Archives has published “Trials and Tribulations: North Carolina African American Soldiers and the Racial Divide.” The booklet that commemorates the history of North Carolina Black Americans’ military service.
More information on the African American Military and Veterans Lineage Project can be found online.
A North Carolina Humanities Council grant awarded to Department of Military and Veterans Affairs, which coordinates the travel of this exhibition at military bases, and cultural and educational institutions in the state, funded the exhibit.
The Museum of the Albemarle is open to the public from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday-Saturday.