Item #7375 [African American Vietnam War photo album.]
[African American Vietnam War photo album.]
[African American Vietnam War photo album.]
[African American Vietnam War photo album.]
[African American Vietnam War photo album.]
[African American Vietnam War photo album.]
[African American Vietnam War photo album.]
[African American Vietnam War photo album.]
[African American Vietnam War photo album.]
[African American Vietnam War photo album.]
[African American Vietnam War photo album.]
[African American Vietnam War photo album.]
[African American Vietnam War photo album.]
[African American Vietnam War photo album.]
[African American Vietnam War photo album.]
[African American Vietnam War photo album.]
[African American Vietnam War photo album.]
[African American Vietnam War photo album.]
[African American Vietnam War photo album.]
[African American Vietnam War photo album.]
[African American Vietnam War photo album.]
[African American Vietnam War photo album.]
[African American Vietnam War photo album.]
[African American Vietnam War photo album.]
[African American Vietnam War photo album.]
[African American Vietnam War photo album.]
[African American Vietnam War photo album.]
[African American Vietnam War photo album.]
[African American Vietnam War photo album.]
[African American Vietnam War photo album.]
[African American Vietnam War photo album.]
[African American Vietnam War photo album.]

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[African American Vietnam War photo album.]

[Vietnam and the U.S., 1960s.]. Sm. 4to photo album (11.5” x 10.25”), padded green cloth over boards, spiral brass binding, decorative felt applique at front cover; 81 original snapshot photographs (ranging from 3.25” x 3.25” to 3.5” x 5”), 40 color and 41 b&w, attached to gummed sheets, some images inscribed at verso; oblong color menu (5” x 7.75”) printed on bifolium, 2 laid-in notices, 1 broadside (11” x 8.5”), printed in reverse on laminate film. CONDITION: Soiling and wear at covers, tape at bottom edge holding inside back cover to board, some images are blurry, some dark, others have streaks, all conditions common to snapshots of that time; photos generally good and clean, one with soiling.

An evocative photo album documenting the lives of African Americans during the Vietnam War, recording the camp-life of soldiers (with additional photos taken stateside), as well as their embrace of the Black Power movement and culture.

Compiled by a presently unidentified participant in the war, this album includes many candid photos showing African American soldiers symbolically raising their fists in the air—the Black Power salute that both Black privates and officers used to acknowledge one another and express solidarity in public. In multiple images, various soldiers pose proudly with a carved, wooden Black Power war-club in the form of a clenched black fist, some men wearing sunglasses indoors. One image shows a white and a Black soldier laughingly raising their fists together. Black soldiers are also shown making fist-bumps with each other, a gesture known colloquially as the “dap”—an intricate, ever-changing and ritualized handshake common among Black privates. Other images document weapon-displays, reel-to-reel audio, TV and radio systems, and beach and city visits. Several images capture a Black soldier’s visits to Buddhist temples and a religious service, one shot showing him in front of a Buddhist altar.

A number of these photos show or suggest interactions between the Black soldiers and Vietnamese women as well as men, including group shots in camp and on rest and relaxation. One photo shows a night party scene with a colorfully dressed young lady at the forefront, a mixed group seated at tables in the background; another shows a couple consisting of a Black man and a Vietnamese woman. In the background of one shot taken back in the U.S., posters featuring Malcom X and the poet Amiri Baraka hang on the wall in a man’s bedroom. Other home images include a professional portrait of a young lady; candid photos of girls modestly posing in their bedrooms; a mom in the kitchen; a dad sitting under the portrait of a soldier, and so forth. The presence of Black Power sentiments in photos taken in both the U.S. and Vietnam suggests the sense of belonging and affirmation the movement offered these young men.

At the time these photos were taken, domestic tensions between Black and white Americans were heightened by the widely unpopular war and fueled the ascendancy of Black Power in America. These same tensions also prevailed in the U.S. Army, which witnessed an increase in interracial conflict, leading to a racially polarized environment, much like back home. The Vietnam War was America's first “racially integrated conflict”; hitherto, “black soldiers had fought in all of America’s preceding military engagements, but in segregated units” (Maycock). Black soldiers embraced the emergent culture and symbols of Black Power, which offered them a sense of community and strength far away from home, amidst ubiquitous racism and a dispiriting war.

An intimate document of service in Vietnam through the eyes of an African American soldier.

REFERENCES: Maycock, James. “War within war” at The Guardian online.

Item #7375

Price: $1,800.00

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