Black Oral Histories
AFRICAN AMERICAN HERITAGE AT CAMP EVANS
An Oral History of African-Americans
and the Development of Radar
at Fort Monmouth, New Jersey
During the great civil rights struggles of the 1960s the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. spoke of the great dilemma the victims of slavery faced. As slaves for 244 years, then segregated and denied opportunity over the next 100 years, unrealistic expectations were placed upon these Men and women as segregation was being put to death by the effective tactics of 'non-violence'. Certain groups demanded these persons be as resourceful and productive as the individuals who never knew such repression and discrimination.
Thanks to the work of Professor Robert Johnson Jr., who conducted a series of oral histories in the early 1990s, the resourcefulness, productivity, and patriotism of men and women of African American heritage at Camp Evans was brought forth. Given (or more accurately - not denied) the opportunity to achieve and contribute these persons did.
During WWII African Americans demonstrated the spirit and personal heroism that would again be drawn upon in the 1960s to save America from the grip of racial injustice. African Americans associated with Camp Evans became Ph.Ds, accomplished engineers, decorated officers and respected managers. As example, Dr. Walter McAfee would help open the space age, but sadly his part would not be mentioned until later.
Author Thomas Daniels would write in 1988, "The original 20 Black engineers and physicists who arrived at Fort Monmouth in the early 1940s set a blazing trail of technical accomplishments for the U.S. Army and set the pace for those Blacks who followed." He observed, "Current books on Black inventors, scientists or engineers fail to mention the many inventions, developments and advancements made in radar, avionics, communication, satellites, electronic warfare, infrared, solid state, computer science, meteorology and electronic components by both civilians and military, particularly at Fort Monmouth."
It is our hope the web page will contribute to changing this.
Read the oral histories below that the video is based upon and learn the reality of the times. In spite of personal insult and injustice these persons kept control of the one thing we all have at our control, our reaction. Ones reaction to injustice is similar to the decision to practice racism, it is a personal choice.
In spite of helping to win WWII, winning opportunity at home would be "No Short Climb" over the next twenty years.
The Radar Pioneers photo was supplied by Mr. John Marchetti.
This group has many WWII pioneers of a different sort.
Patriotic Americans who helped win WWII for freedom and democracy even though they would have to demand and win it again in the 1960s on the home front.
These oral histories were funded in part by the New Jersey Historical Commission
Link to Dr. Walter McAfee interview
Link to Mr. Harold Tate interview
Link to Mr. William J. Jones interview
**A video segment of Mr. William J, Jones interview jones1.avi ( File size 17,412KB ) **TO BE ADDED SOON**
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"InfoAge Science History Center". Mail the check to InfoAge, 2201 Marconi Road Wall, NJ 07719.
Thank you to the family of Mr. Loren Stone ( above) who shared this group photo from his memorbilia.
Robert Johnson Jr
|And thanks to Professor Johnson for conducting these interviews and bringing this imporant story forth in text and a documentary. Over a period of ten years Professor Johnson has dedicated personal time and his resources to this excellent work. He has preserved an inspiring stories for the future.
Click here for the "No Short Climb" Page.