Our research project explores the connection between the U.S. military presence abroad and the advancement of civil rights in the U.S. We investigate the role that African-American GIs played in carrying the civil rights movement to Germany, which was host to the largest contingent of U.S. troops deployed outside the U.S.
Between 1945 and the end of the Cold War, some 15-20 million American soldiers, families and civilian employees lived in Germany. Between 2-3 million of those Americans were African American. By giving voice to their experience and to that of the people who interacted with them, we will expand the story of the African-American civil rights movement beyond the boundaries of the U.S.
This digital archive has three main goals: First, it will gather and preserve materials on an important, but little known chapter of American and African-American history as well as transatlantic relations after the Second World War. Second, it will make these materials available world wide and free of charge to scholars and teachers in the humanities. Third, it will foster the growth of a community of scholars, teachers, and students who are engaged in teaching and learning about the African-American civil rights movement and its reverberations outside the U.S.