Review: Honor Deferred

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With the passing of Coretta Scott King and the advent of Black History Month, society is naturally thinking about civil rights and how far African-Americans have really come.   There have been a variety of insightful and educational Black history programs featuring issues such as the scientific basis of race; “Negroes With Guns,â€? and beef in Hip-Hop.  Following suit, The History Channel is premiering a documentary that travels back to World War II, when the army was segregated and African-American soldiers were considered to be less than a person. 

“Honor Deferred,â€? narrated by Samuel L. Jackson and hosted by Bernie Mac, pays tribute to the only seven African-American World War II veterans to receive the Congressional Gold Medal Honor, while exposing the army’s conspiracy to erase the contributions that these soldiers made to their country.  This Al Roker production features first hand accounts, primary documents and vivid reenactments to honor these forgotten soldiers who were eventually recognized 50 years later by President Bill Clinton. 

Actor Kevin Byrd plays the legendary Lt. John R. Fox, who was honored posthumously his valor and military accomplishments along with six other incredible war heroes.  During fighting in Europe, Lieutenant John Fox found himself completely surrounded by German forces. He called for U.S. artillery to be fired directly on his position, dooming himself to death but taking more than 100 German soldiers with him. 

“It’s truly an honor to portray Lt. Fox and bring life and recognition to this true American hero,â€? explains Byrd.  “People need to know about these men and the contributions of African-Americans to our military and our way of life.â€?   

Until World War II, African-Americans in the military were largely relegated to service positions. But when the United States found itself fighting a massive war in both Europe and the South Pacific at the same time, the Armed Forces decided to call African-American units into fighting duty. Even so, the African-American units received meager preparation for duty compared to white soldiers, and fought in segregated units, often commanded by white leaders who treated them poorly.  These soldiers served their country valiantly despite faces these challenges but still none received the nation’s highest honor. 

In 1994, the Army finally took notice and commissioned a research team at Shaw University in Raleigh, NC to look at the situation. Their investigations revealed seven tales of uncommon valor that deserved the award, and blew the lid off a long-standing, high-level conspiracy within the U.S. government to obscure the contributions of African-American soldiers and keep them from public record.  “Honor Deferredâ€? re-creates the stories of the seven African-American Medal of Honor recipients granted the award in 1997 in vivid, full-color detail. The last living member of the group, Vernon J. Baker, tells his emotional story and adds detail to the others, as do family members of the deceased soldiers.

This is an incredibly moving documentary that educate and evokes emotions.  Not only does it give the audience an eye into the dangers that our soldiers face at war; but it also demonstrates how racism overshadowed the valor and commitment of these soldiers.


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