BHM: Dante Brizill

DELAWARE – Dante Brizill is a local teacher and author who has dedicated his time to researching and telling stories that focus on achievements of Blacks in U.S. history.

Brizill is a history teacher at Polytech High School in Woodside, Delaware, and an accomplished artist who has written three books focusing on the achievements of Black Americans during World War II. We spoke with Brizill to learn more about the people he highlighted in his books, one of which is titled “Black Women in WWII: Greatness Under Fire”, which tells the story of an extraordinary group of Black women known as the “Black Rosies”, who helped the U.S. win World War II.

“World War 2 gave African American women the opportunity to expand their horizons and to leave the cotton fields, the farms and kitchens and work in a defense factory and they were able to double and triple there pay and they also had opportunities to serve overseas as well and contribute to the war effort,” said Brizill. “They tended to exhaust their man power with men. White men then African American men and then white women and when they couldn’t get a much as they could out of those 3 groups African American women were the last hire. the least desired and the last hired but when the did come on board they did a great job. they tended to get the worse shifts but the door was open and they went through it.”

In another one of Brizill’s books, he also shines a light on one man who risked his life for his country on December 7, 1941, the Attack on Pearl Harbor. He tells the story of Doris “Dorie” Miller, a Black man enlisted as a galley cook. His bravery made him spring into action that day, manning an anti-air gun and defending his ship and crewmates.

“So what makes his story incredible is he was not supposed to be a hero on December 7th 1941 but once we were attacked and his ship was under attack they went into all hands on deck all help needed mode and he grabbed a weapon he was not trained to use and was actually firing on the attacking Japanese planes that were attacking his ship an actually got a few of those planes downed and he actually helped save some of the lives of some of the men on his ship as well. So he kind of stepped out of the role or the limitations, he stepped out of the box the Navy had African American men in and because of his actions he awarded the Navy Cross which is the second highest award the navy gives out.”

Brizill also told us that Miller will be honored by the U.S. Navy, which will be naming the next aircraft carrier to be commissioned after him.

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Categories: Black History Month, Local News