African-Americans in Vietnam War
The Vietnam War marked a significant change in the way that African Americans contributed to America's military efforts. Vietnam marked the first major combat deployment of an integrated military and the first time since the turn of the century that African American participation was actually encouraged. A number of different factors contributed to the increasing tension between black and white soldiers in Vietnam. One of these factors was a decline in the qualifications of recruits. In mid-1966 the U.S. government came up with a new recruiting program called Project 100,000. It was intended to encourage poor and uneducated blacks to enlist in the armed forces by lowering the standards for admission and offering special training programs. Between 1966 and 1968, 340,000 people enlisted in the American military through Project 100,000. More than 40 percent of these new recruits were African Americans from poor urban areas. They hoped to serve a tour of duty in Vietnam and return home with useful skills. But the government soon cut the special training programs from its budget. The Project 100,000 recruits arrived in Vietnam to find that many white officers considered them inferior to other soldiers. As a result, they were often assigned to menial tasks or to dangerous combat duty. The poor treatment of the Project 100,000 recruits highlighted the discrimination that other African American soldiers faced in Vietnam. Many black soldiers received less desirable housing and duty assignments than white soldiers in the same unit. In addition, blacks often found themselves passed over for promotions. Only 2 percent of officers in the U.S. armed forces were black, even though blacks made up a much larger percentage of all military personnel during the Vietnam War. But the most disturbing statistic in the minds of many African Americans was the number of black soldiers who were killed or wounded in combat. A high percentage of blacks and...
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