An old video of a Vietnam vet during an interview surprises his family when it goes viral on social media.
What We Know:
- Sylvester Bracey, a Vietnam vet who was enlisted in the Marine Corps at the age of 18 in 1967, was interviewed for an episode of the National Educational Television’s “Black Journal,” where he talked about Black soldiers experiencing racism in the Marine Corps. Unfortunately, he never viewed the documentary and died in December.
- The footage of Bracey went viral after a clip from the 1970 documentary, The Black G.I., was posted on Twitter 50 years after it originally aired on television. Bracey’s 22-year-old grandson, Sylvester Bracey III, saw the clip and showed his family.
African-American men share the experience of racism in Vietnam in the 1970s. pic.twitter.com/K4qnQLQYhN
— Don Salmon (@dijoni) July 22, 2020
- “I grew up with my grandfather and to be able to see visual confirmation and hear him in his prime, talking about the same things that he was kicking in the 60s, was really powerful,” Bracey III said. “For as long as he was alive, he was always planning like: ‘How can we as Black people get free? How can we create community? How can we work together to build something that works for us.’”
- In the interview, Bracey Sr. talked about their shared experiences with racism while serving. For example, as Blacks, they weren’t allowed to have afros and were told to have “hindsight” hair, which is a skinhead look. He told the story of how a Vietnamese girl called him the N-word and knew that the word wasn’t a part of their language, suggesting that she and the other Vietnamese people learned racist views and language from White American military personnel.
- “We go over here, we fight, we fight to defend the water we drink, the land we grow our food on and our way of culture,” Bracey Sr. said in the interview while sitting at a table surrounded by a group of Black Marines in a mess hall. “We also fight to protect Rockefeller’s Foundations, we fight to protect J.P. Kennedy Foundation, all these different kinds of foundations that the Black man can’t partake of. And then we go back, we’re continuously harassed.”
- The clip gained a lot of attention because of the words that Bracey spoke and because of his smooth Southern and urban accent. Bracey Sr.’s ex-wife, Angella Allen, described Bracey as a “dreamer” and a “huge advocate for Black Power”. “His biggest desire was to create a spark in others, to ignite their own creations, and to use their talents to create a legacy to be passed on and remembered.”
In December, Bracey Sr. died from heart disease, never getting the chance to see the documentary and to hear the power in his words.