The nurse and the sol­dier may never have met – and even­tu­ally mar­ried – had it not been for the Amer­ican government’s mis­treat­ment of black women during World War II.

Elinor Eliz­a­beth Powell was an African-​​American mil­i­tary nurse. Fred­erick Albert was a German pris­oner of war. Their paths crossed in Ari­zona in 1944. It was a time when the Army was resisting enlisting black nurses and the rel­a­tively small number allowed entry tended to be assigned to the least desir­able duties.

They decided they were going to use African-​​Americans but in very small num­bers and in seg­re­gated loca­tions,” said Charissa Threat, a his­tory pro­fessor at North­eastern Uni­ver­sity who teaches race and gender studies.

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