posted by miku on Feb 28
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Black American GIs, Park Street, Bristol – During World War II
Image by brizzle born and bred
During the Second World War, a large number of American troops were stationed in or near Bristol. They included black soldiers, who were based in Muller’s Orphanage on Ashley Down in Bristol. Bristol people were on the whole friendly towards the American soldiers, including the black soldiers. The white American soldiers were horrified to see white women dancing with black men. But there was no racism in Bristol’s institutions at that time.
An actress working at Bristol’s Little Theatre during the war met a black American soldier in one of the city parks. He came up to talk to her and her friends. ‘He wasn’t trying to pick us up or anything. He explained that he was desperately lonely and how lovely it would be to talk to some women… So we invited him to tea.’
At least one Bristol woman met and married a black American soldier. Patricia Edmead, who married Louis Edmead, remembered that the black Americans were ‘…so full of life… In spite of everything they had to put up with, they were so cheerful.’ And the black soldiers did have a lot to put up with. The white soldiers were used to an America where blacks and whites did not mix, and found it hard to cope with the different attitude towards black people in Britain.
The American Military Police dealt with all American army problems in Britain.
The Military Police were white and tended to deal more harshly with black soldiers than with white. In one case in Bristol, a local woman was prosecuted for trying to stop a Military Policeman from beating up a black American soldier. Black soldiers were also dealt with more harshly by the American system. American soldiers were under American law, even when stationed on British soil. Under American law, the sentence for rape was death. In British law rape had not been punishable by death since 1861. In Shepton Mallet jail in Somerset 29 American soldiers were hanged for rape, by the American Military Police.
Out of this number, 25 were black. Yet less than 10% of the men in the American forces in Britain were black. Accusations of rape against black soldiers were common, and they were more likely to be hanged for it than their white companions. In the American army, black troops were in segregated or separate units. Black and white rarely mixed, which was not surprising since racial separation was still legal in many American states.
Most of the black troops were used to do menial tasks, not as fighting troops. The 92nd Infantry Division were black frontline troops, who fought in the American Civil War, the Spanish American War and in the First and Second World Wars.
Black Americans joined the fighting troops in the Second World War because they hoped it would help to change attitudes and gain civil rights for black Americans. What happened was that, after the war, the part played by black soldiers was ignored by their country and by history. Black soldiers were not allowed to march in victory parades when they got home. African-Americans had to wait longer for their civil rights.
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JAXPORT Gallery: “The Art of the Steel Crane” by Barbara Holmes and Deborah Reid
Image by JAXPORT
Opening reception at JAXPORT Gallery, December 2011
“The Art of the Steel Crane” is centered around a recurring theme and in the duo’s art: the self, a spirit that is also all powerful. The persona is representative of how we present to the world, the child inside everyone and acts as a self-reflective tool for the viewer to connect to the art. The exhibition consists of glass sculptures, a series of photographs, including some exclusive edition prints, an animation video piece, and a menagerie of paintings. “The Art of the Steel Crane” will be showing at JAXPORT Gallery from November 21, 2011 until January 5th, 2012. Find out more information on Barbara’s barbarafryefield.blogspot.com/
Barbara Fryefield, is an expressive artist, fine artist, and teacher. She holds a B.A. in Psychology and a Certificate in Art for Education. Barbara is owner of the Artist Palette Florida LLC. She has a gift for working with children and has been a k-12 art teacher for three years. Barbara applies knowledge of creative art, painting, drawing, and visual art to her work with children and adults. She facilitates using each of these processes in a non-threatening, spontaneous, and fun way that helps participants construct a new understanding of themselves and those around them. She works with adults, children, and families focused on self-expression, communication, and wellness.
Deborah R. Reid is a lifelong painter and a practicing attorney. Her work is largely based on her own photographs which she interprets in a combination of oil, acrylic, egg shell, ink and now aerosol.Deborah curates monthly art shows at the Zodiac Grill on Adams Street as a fundraiser for Jacksonville Area Legal Aid. Her work can be seen there, at Fireflies on San Jose as well as regional galleries.
Deborah is a seasoned admiralty practitioner. Prior to joining the Florida Bar, she practiced in California, New Jersey and New York. She is now with the commercial litigation firm of Rumrell & Brock, P.A. Commencing in 2012; Deborah will be conducting workshops on Intellectual Property and Law for Artists.
For additional information and/or images, please contact Meredith Fordham Hughes by email or by phone at (904) 357-3052.
Located on the first floor of JAXPORT Headquarters, the Gallery features local artists rotating on a bi-monthly basis. JAXPORT Gallery is open during normal JAXPORT Headquarters hours and admission is free.
Photo credit: JAXPORT, Meredith Fordham Hughes