April 23, 2024

NEW TIME: Book Night: Forgotten: The Untold Story of D-Day’s Black Heroes, at Home and at War


This event will begin with a cash reception in the Club Quarters dining room at 6:30 p.m. The program will be held from 7:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m., also in the dining room.

The OPC, the New York Association of Black Journalists and the Foreign Press Association present an evening with author Linda Hervieux on her book Forgotten: The Untold Story of D-Day’s Black Heroes, at Home and at War, which tells the story of the only unit of
African-American combat soldiers to land on D-Day. These men and their unusual
mission were written out of the D-Day story. Movies don’t show them, and most
history books don’t mention them. Hervieux is a freelance journalist and
photographer based in Paris.

Forgotten follows the  men of the 320th
Barrage Balloon Battalion from their hometowns in heavily segregated Jim Crow
America to their specialty Army training camp in Tennessee, where they
experienced breathtaking racism and violence. Even German prisoners of war
brought to American internment camps were treated better than them.

The book tracks the men on a
harrowing Atlantic crossing to Britain, where they were welcomed like movie
stars and embraced by people who had never seen people of color. They were free
from the racial hatred of Jim Crow for the first time in their lives. In the
larger context, this African-American experience abroad helped plant the seeds
of the civil rights movement that would rock the country in the coming

The battalion landed early on
D-Day. All of the balloons seen in photos on Omaha and Utah Beaches were flown
by these men. A largely forgotten element of America’s war defenses, the
balloons formed an aerial minefield in the sky, deterring enemy planes from
dive-bombing the beaches.

Tom Brokaw praised Forgotten, calling it “an utterly compelling account of the African-Americans who played a
crucial and dangerous role in the invasion of Europe. They found social
acceptance in Great Britain but official resistance in their own country. The
story of their heroic duty is long overdue.”

The moderator is Mark Whitaker, former managing editor of CNN Worldwide and a reporter and editor at Newsweek, where he rose to become the first African-American leader of a national newsweekly.

RSVP to RSVP@opcofamerica.org.

Watch a live stream of the event here: