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Narrator: Working on the Manhattan Project
at Columbia University, African American scientist George Warren Reed noticed that white scientists
were being drafted into the Army. Under the Servicemen’s Readjustment Act
of 1944, also known as the “G.I. Bill,” World War II veterans became eligible
for low-cost mortgages, low-interest loans, and tuition for higher education. Reed remembers when he tried to enlist. George Warren Reed: Well, I—before this,
had been concerned by the fact that the white guys who were in the group that I was working
in were being taken into the Army, kept for six weeks–basic–and then being sent back
as PFCs [Private First Class] and corporals. They were then basically Army people. I went to my draft board in Washington and
said, “Look, these people are going in like this. I think I should go in this way too, and I’m
1-A.” My draft board looked into it and got in touch
with me and said, “Look, we’re not allowed to touch you.” I said, “But these guys are going to go in
and when the war is over, they’re going to have all the benefits of having been in the
Army, and I’m not going to have anything.” They said, “We are not allowed to touch you.” Narrator: During World War II, the US military
was segregated, and recruiters routinely turned African Americans away. After the war, white Veterans Administration
officials at the state and local level systematically denied loans, mortgages, tuition and other
G.I. Bill benefits to black applicants. To pay for his doctorate, George Warren Reed
earned the prestigious Julius Rosenwald Fellowship, an award given to African American researchers
and intellectuals between 1928 and 1946.

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