This program is In-Person
A presentation on the lives of Black soldiers stationed at Grenier Air Base (now Manchester-Boston
Regional Airport) during World War II, when the service was segregated by race. Includes an overview of Black military service in N.H. from Revolutionary through the Civil War and into the 20th century, with a focus on the first-person narratives of soldiers stationed at Grenier. Through their own words in The Beacon, a newspaper that circulated on the base during the 1940s, you’ll learn about life in ‘the Village,’ a barracks where Black soldiers were billeted. You’ll learn about Marva Louis, the wife of acclaimed boxer Joe Louis, and her visit to the Air Field, as well as the words of USO workers. You’ll also hear about the exceptional 366th Infantry Regiment, once stationed in Manchester, which included Black officers in its leadership and fought bravely in combat in Italy during WWII.
During WWII, 2.5 million African American men registered for the draft, with over a million inducted into the armed forces. People of African descent have participated in every U.S. war; however, it wasn’t until
President Harry Truman signed Executive Order 9981 in 1948, establishing the President’s Committee on Equality of Treatment and Opportunity in the Armed Services, that the government committed to
integrating the segregated military.
About the presenter: Leah Dearborn was appointed assistant director of the Aviation Museum of New Hampshire in June, 2021. She holds a B.A. in Journalism from UMass Amherst, and an M.A. in
International Relations from UMass Boston's McCormack Graduate School of Policy and Global Studies, with a focus on diplomatic history. She also earned a certificate in Modern Media from Yale University in
2017. Leah's professional background includes work in newspaper reporting and editing, in financial services, and museum operations and development.