Matthew Delmont Featured in New World War II Documentaries

The historian appears in two documentaries on National Geographic about African Americans who served in the U.S. military during the war.

Historian Matthew Delmont is featured in two new documentaries about Black Americans who served in the U.S. military during World War II. The Sherman Fairchild Distinguished Professor of History appears in Erased: WW2's Heroes of Color and The Real Red Tails, both of which begin streaming on National Geographic on June 3. 

Delmont, who also serves as the Frank J. Guarini Associate Dean of International Studies and Interdisciplinary Studies, is an expert on African-American history and the history of civil rights. His most recent book, Half American: The Epic Story of African Americans Fighting World War II at Home and Abroad, received the Anisfield-Wolf Book Award, a national juried prize for literature that confronts racism and explores diversity. 

Erased: WW2's Heroes of Color is a four-part series that showcases untold stories of Black soldiers who were integral to four of the most important battles of the war: Pearl Harbor, D-Day, Dunkirk, and the Battle of the Bulge. Executive produced and narrated by Idris Elba, whose own grandfather fought in the war, the series sheds light on the immense contributions of over eight million individuals who fought heroically for the Allied forces.

Through historical dramatizations and first-hand accounts from descendants interwoven with insights from historians and curated archival footage, each episode spotlights the bravery of at least three African American heroes. The limited series also illuminates the direct link between their wartime struggles and the rise of post-war-inspired movements for freedom that swept the globe.

The one-hour Real Red Tails narrates the discovery of a WWII-era P-39 airplane in Lake Huron, Michigan, and the history of the Tuskegee Airmen, the first Black flying unit in the United States military. 

On the morning of April 11, 1944, Second Lieutenant Frank Moody, a 22-year-old Tuskegee pilot, perished in what should have been a routine training mission when his plane malfunctioned and took a nosedive into the lake. Narrated by Sheryl Lee Ralph (Abbott Elementary), Real Red Tails takes viewers on a journey to uncover the 80-year-old mystery of how and why Moody's plane went down.

The film enlists teams of underwater archaeologists to recover parts of the downed plane for the first time and weaves in firsthand accounts from fellow aviators along with underwater footage from the wreck, shedding new light on a story lost to time.