The Legendary Life of Eugene Bullard – Boxer, Pilot, Soldier, Spy
Written by: Phil Keith, Tom Clavin
Narrated by: James Shippy
Rating: 1 – Everyone should know this story and this hero
I’m genuinely suprised and disgusted that Eugene Ballard’s name isn’t celebrated in the pantheon of black history heroes. I love baseball and Jackie Robinson, but I believe that Eugene’s perseverence to find equality much more intriguing than Jackie’s (not taking anything away from him) and started 40 years before the beloved baseball-color-barrier-breaker.
What you’ll find in this book is one man’s determination to not be subject to racism and follow a dream. Hearing of more equity to those of African descent in France, he set that as a goal. However, that was just the beginning as he had to make it out of the deeply segregated south, his home in Columbus Georgia and work his way north to find passage across the Atlantic Ocean. From there he begins his journey on the eponymous subtitle of this book.
Probably because it would be too verbose, but neglected from the advertised accomplishments in the subtitle is business manager and owner which enabled many of his activities that spanned two world wars. Although the United States made vast improvements to African American Sevice Members by World War II (still obviously a lopsided affair with their white counterparts), their stories were at least plausible (as many found success and honor) where Eugene’s exploits seem unimaginable impossible.
Other works for consideration:
1. Curveball: The Remarkable Story of Toni Stone, the First Woman to Play Professional Baseball in the Negro League, by Martha Ackermann
2. Twelve Years a Slave, by Solomon Northup
3. The Warmth of Other Suns, by Isabel Wilkerson
4. Mr. Rickey Calls a Meeting, by Ed Schmidt