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.