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The Army's First Black Nurses Were Relegated to Caring for Nazi Prisoners of War

Posted: Mon May 21, 2018 10:07 am
by ajsuff
............................... from the Smithsonian ..............................

Prohibited from treating white GIs, the women felt betrayed by the country they sought to serve

On the summer afternoon in 1944 that 23-year-old Elinor Powell walked into the Woolworth’s lunch counter in downtown Phoenix, it never occurred to her that she would be refused service. She was, after all, an officer in the U.S. Army Nurse Corps, serving her country during wartime, and she had grown up in a predominantly white, upwardly mobile Boston suburb that didn’t subject her family to discrimination.

But the waiter who turned Elinor away wasn’t moved by her patriotism. All he saw was her brown skin. It probably never occurred to him that the woman in uniform was from a family that served its country, as Elinor’s father had in the First World War, as well as another relative who had been part of the Union Army during the Civil War. The only thing that counted at that moment—and in that place, where Jim Crow laws remained in force—was the waiter’s perception of a black army nurse as not standing on equal footing with his white customers.


https://www.smithsonianmag.com/history/ ... M2MDc2NQS2