When Eugene Bullard's father told him there was no racism in France, a very young Eugene became determined to be where all people were treated with respect - France.
In his biography on Eugene Bullard, the World's First Black Fighter Pilot, Larry Greenly paints our hero with tenacity and an unyielding desire to live in a world of equality. In his quest for France, the young run-away found not all white people were mean, and not all black people were his friend. He finally found the respect he earned and desired for so long in the fighting ring, on the music scene, and over the field of battle.
Eugene Bullard led a fantastic life. Fighting against the Germans in WWI with the French Foreign Legion, Bullard excelled in every endeavor. But, he came home to find a handful of Americans remained deeply embedded in the racism trench, never to accept him for his accolades over his skin color.
Larry Greenly's biography intrigued, enlightened, and saddened me. To live and fight for a country during a time of intense war, only to be treated less than human, yet remain true to your dreams of tolerance and love is truly a feat for only the bravest among us. Eugene's perseverance and drive should encourage us all to seek the good in everyone. Mr. Greenly reminds us of the true American hero who was Eugene Bullard, the World's First Black Fighter Pilot.
Reviewed by: Sandra Miller Linhart
Pioneering black aviator Eugene Bullard, descended from slaves, became the world’s first black fighter pilot, though he was barred from serving the United States because of the color of his skin.
Growing up in Georgia, Bullard faced discrimination and the threat of lynching, but he had listened spellbound to his father's stories about how France treated everyone equally. He ran away from home at twelve, worked as a profesional boxer at seventeen, and eventually made his way to France, where he joined the French Foreign Legion and later the Lafayette Flying Corps. He saw fierce combat during World War I and was wounded multiple times.
In World War II, Bullard became a member of the French Underground. After the war, he returned to the United States with a chest full of medals, but once again faced discrimination. Bullard was all but ignored in the United States, even as, at age sixty-four in 1959, he was made a Chevalier of the French Legion of Honor. The next year, General Charles de Gaulle personally invited Bullard to a ceremony in New York where he was embraced by the general himself.
Eugene Bullard's is a remarkable story of accomplishment despite racial prejudice. Author Larry Greenly's biography includes numerous historical photographs of Bullard throughout his travels.