Publications to Celebrate Black History Month

February is Black History Month, a month to recognize and honor the achievements of African Americans in U.S. History. Of course, there are many famous African Americans we hear about all the time – civil rights activists, musicians, writers, politicians, and athletes – who overcame great feats and helped define the future of our country. But one group that often doesn’t receive as much attention is those African Americans who served in the military, especially when the United States Army was segregated. It might be hard for us to imagine today, but it wasn’t until 1940 that an African American served as a general officer in the United States Army. And it wasn’t until 1999 that President Bill Clinton pardoned Henry O. Flipper, the first African American to graduate from the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, who was framed by white officers and wrongfully charged for embezzlement in 1881. The following books from the GPO Bookstore will teach you about the adversity African American soldiers overcame and the advancements they made for our military and country.

Did you know that initially African Americans were not allowed to fight in the Civil War? A couple years into the war, it became clear that the Union Army needed more soldiers. When this need was finally acknowledged, the Second Confiscation and Militia Act authorized President Lincoln “to employ as many persons of African descent as he may deem necessary”. In February 1863, Massachusetts Governor and abolitionist John A. Andrew began the first official recruitment effort for African American soldiers. However, racism continued to pervade the army. Even many of the Union officers believed black soldiers didn’t have the same skill level or weren’t as brave as white soldiers. Both black soldiers and their white officers faced a potentially dangerous fate, including slavery or on-the-spot execution, if captured by the confederates. Freedom by the Sword tells the story of the Colored Troops recruitment, organization, and service. The broad focus is on every theater of the Civil War and its concentration on what black soldiers contributed to Union victory. It examines the Colored Troops’ formation, training, and operations during the entire span of their service, and in every theater of the war in which they served. This book underscores the unique nature of their contributions both to Union victory and to their own ultimate liberation.

Black Soldier, White Army analyzes the operations of the all black 24th Infantry during the Korean War to determine how well the unit and its associated engineers and artillery performed. This book offers a valuable social history of black soldiers in the United States Army and looks at how the events of war intersected with the racial prejudices prevalent in that day.

Pathbreakers details how previous African American military officers made successful careers for themselves in the United States Marine Corps (USMC). This book contains a collection of interviews conducted with several African American Marine officers. The discussions and comments are presented in chronological order, offering a historical account with a uniquely personal perspective.

Finally, Nothing But Praise provides a history of the 1321st regiment, an African American regiment which served in Europe during World War II.

This Black History Month, take a moment to recognize the outstanding achievements of African Americans who have served in the United States military. Then share the knowledge!

The GPO Online Bookstore – Easy Access to Federal Publications


Shop Online Anytime: You can buy eBooks or print publications —with FREE Standard Shipping worldwide— from the U.S. Government Online Bookstore at

Shop our Retail Store: Buy a copy of any print editions from this collection at GPO’s retail bookstore at 710 North Capitol Street NW, Washington, DC 20401, open Monday–Friday, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., except Federal holidays, Call (202) 512-0132 for information or to arrange in-store pick-up.

Order by Phone: Call our Customer Contact Center Monday through Friday, 8 am to 5:30 pm Eastern (except US Federal holidays). From US and Canada, call toll-free 1.866.512.1800. DC or International customers call +1.202.512.1800.

Visit a Federal depository library: Search for U.S. Government publications in a nearby Federal depository library. You can find the records for most titles in GPO’s Catalog of U.S. Government Publications.

Find more than a million official Federal Government publications from all three branches at

About the author: Blogger contributor Cat Goergen is the PR Specialist in GPO’s Public Relations office.

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