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A G.I. Attacked | The Blinding of Isaac Woodard | American Experience | PBS

The mood among the freshly discharged GIs at the Greyhound bus station must have been both jubilant and excruciating. They were on the final leg of a journey that had taken them halfway around the world and back.

Among the Black and white soldiers was Sgt. Isaac Woodard. Only his journey wouldn’t end happily. A charged interaction with the bus driver would put Woodard in front of a white sheriff in the deep South who would take his sight. By the end of Isaac Woodard’s journey, he’d never see again. But what no one knew at the time was how this incident would lead to the beginning of the end of Jim Crow segregation in America.

Learn more about THE BLINDING OF ISAAC WOODARD, including where to watch the documentary:

In 1946, Isaac Woodard, a Black army sergeant on his way home to South Carolina after serving in WWII, was pulled from a bus for arguing with the driver. The local chief of police savagely beat him, leaving him unconscious and permanently blind. The shocking incident made national headlines and, when the police chief was acquitted by an all-white jury, the blatant injustice would change the course of American history. Based on Richard Gergel’s book Unexampled Courage, the film details how the crime led to the racial awakening of President Harry Truman, who desegregated federal offices and the military two years later. The event also ultimately set the stage for the Supreme Court’s landmark 1954 Brown v. Board of Education decision, which finally outlawed segregation in public schools and jumpstarted the modern civil rights movement.
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