One of historian CR Gibbs’ reoccurring themes is that consumers cannot rely on Hollywood or YouTube for historical facts. “You have to plant the seat of your pants to a seat and read books,” he repeated once again on November 10 during a lecture co-sponsored by the Alexandria Black History Museum and Port Of Harlem magazine.
One of the many groups and individuals Gibbs highlighted who helped America win World War II were the Original Black Panthers or the 761st Tank Battalion. Gibbs, a United States Army veteran, explained that mostly African-American soldiers made up the independent tank battalion of the United States Army at a time when federal law did not permit African descendents to serve alongside White troops.
Though Gibbs does not rely on Hollywood for historical facts, he did mention with some pride that Black Panther star Michael B. Jordan has shown interest in producing a film on the Original Black Panthers.
He also covered the lives of pilots Willa Brown and Mildred Carter, who helped train the now celebrated Tuskegee Airmen, but who themselves still languish in the margins of memory. “Why are their contributions, not taught?” Gibbs asked.