Local Teacher and Author Tells the Stories of Black Achievement in World War II
WOODSIDE, Delaware – For the entire month of February 47ABC is celebrating Black History Month – by highlighting different people, stories, and events that honor and teach about black history.
Today we highlight Dante Brizill, a local teacher and author.
Brizill is a history teacher at Polytech High School in Woodside, Delaware, and an accomplished author who has written three books focusing on the achievements of Black Americans during World War II.
47abc 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”. This book tells the story of an extraordinary group of Black women, known as the “Black Rosies,” who helped the US 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 their pay, and they also had opportunities to serve overseas as well and contribute to the war effort,” Brizill Said.
“They [The US] tended to exhaust their manpower with men, white men than African American men, and then white women and when they couldn’t get as 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 they 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 Brazill’s books, he also shines a light on one man who risked his life for his country on Dec. 7th, 1941, during 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.
“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. He actually helped save some of the lives of some of the men on his ship as well.” Brizill said.
“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 was 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 US Navy, naming the next aircraft carrier to be commissioned after him, the USS Doris Miller, an honor typically reserved for former presidents.
This is just a small portion of the rich black history covered in Brizill’s books, and if you’d like to learn more you can find his books in the links below: