Recognizing the disparity in news coverage for African American and white soldiers in The Leader

The following article, written by Sherri Onorati, was first published in the Covington Leader Feb 26, 2021

A 1944 issue of The Covington Leader lists the African American selectees drafted into the Army during World War II.

During the early years of the Covington Leader, each week one could find a very short paragraph titled “Colored Folks” which would provide a few sentences of news thought to be of interest to the county’s African American community. During the United States’ entrance into World War II, The Leader printed lists of Tipton County soldiers, black and white, called for military service.

Although the names of both races were printed for the public, there was a glaring disparity in news coverage. Even though African American soldiers had their names printed in the paper letting everyone know they were headed to war, and perhaps a few short lines on a specific soldier could be found, coverage was concentrated more on the news and updates of what Tipton County’s white soldiers were doing while serving their county.

The following paragraphs of military interest and names of African American soldiers were found in early editions of 1944 Covington Leader issues.

Colored Selectees Accepted for Army

The following colored selectees have been accepted for service in the Army and will report soon to training:

  • George Albert Brown
  • Clarence Frazier
  • Darius Stevens Dugger
  • Robert Samuel Rivers
  • James Mitchell
  • Willie James Strange
  • John Willie Taylor
  • J. Boyd
  • Johnnie Maclin
  • George Walter Ellis
  • Clyde Hayes
  • Willie James Baldwin
  • Tolley Moore
  • Larry Curtis Wynn
  • James Boyd
  • Julius Smith
  • Robert Frank Avery
  • James State Stanford
  • John Will Young
  • Eddie Nep Wilson
  • Rudolph Boykins
  • Richard Verdell Jones
  • Jessie James Tipton
  • John Albert Matthews
  • Eddie Stitt
  • Bennie Shankle
  • Lawrence Burrell Neal Jr.
  • Thomas Teamer
  • John Lee Harris
  • Anderson Lee Taylor
  • Verble Williams
  • James Robert Sappington
  • Johnnie Lee Craig
  • Nesbit Malone
  • Willie Melvin Moore
  • Walter Charles T. Clemmons
  • Thomas Eugene Boyd
  • William Alexander Barlow
  • Willie Turron Tipton
  • George Harold Ervin
  • Fred Junior Macklin
  • John Early Tipton
  • Melvin Sailes
  • Robert Sidney Sanford
  • Burnett Yarbrough
  • Willie Hall Jr.
  • Henry Peyton Anderson
  • David Harris

Calvin Bumpass has completed a course at Fort Knox, Ky., in the maintenance and repair of peeps and jeeps and was graduated last week.

Albert Fayne, son of Walter and Thelma Fayne of Brighton, has successfully completed a 16-weeks course of instruction in Cooks and Bakers School at Corpus Christi, Texas. He has been commended for his work by John C. Poshepny commander in charge of the school.

Tech./Cpl. Bennett Alston, son of Anabel Alston of the Burlison vicinity, who is overseas, is also supporting the home front. He sent home $375 worth of bonds in 1943.

Cpl. Charles F. McCadden, U. S. Army Air Corps, Jefferson Barracks, Mo., was married in Washington, D.C., to Marianne Carmen of Minneapolis, Minn. McCadden, a native colored citizen of Covington, was before induction a teacher and principal in the public schools of Tipton County. His father is Will McCadden. Since being at Jefferson Barracks, McCadden has held one of the most important positions in his Wing. He is to leave soon for another Air Base assignment.

Pfc. Alfonso Cole, son of John W. Cole, formerly of this county and now living in Los Angeles, Calif., is now serving in the Army in Hawaii.

Freddie Fittes of Brighton is serving as a GI stevedore with a U.S. Army battalion in North Africa.

Pvt. Thomas Cotton, with an Air Force Service Command, “Somewhere in England,” son of James and Ella Cotton in Covington has been serving in the European Theater of Operations for nine months with the combat support wing trucking organization of the Air Service Command. Private Cotton is a member of an outfit that has been commended for its efficiency and team spirit in driving through storms and British fogs to deliver the goods to advanced combat stations.

Although not absolute, the 20th century’s lack of coverage on the contributions of African American soldiers during World War I and World War II is American history lost. Their commitment, courage, and honor shown in service to their country deserved to be recognized and celebrated.

The Tipton County Museum is working hard to combat that stark inequality by gathering the info of all of Tipton County’s service members. Families of service members are invited to provide copies of their loved one’s service documents, including DD214/discharge papers, training documents, military assignments, pictures and other memorabilia they’d like to share. Copies are acceptable. The most important requirement is to document their loved one’s military service. For more information or assistance, please contact the Museum’s archivist and historian Sherri Onorati at the Museum by calling 476-0242.

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