“Breath of Freedom” focus of film review and discussion

Publication Date

A screening of the documentary, “Breath of Freedom,” which details the participation in the civil rights struggle by African American GIs who served in Germany, and a discussion with the co-author of a book that inspired the film will be Wednesday, April 9, in the Nott Memorial.

The screenings and talk are free and open to the public.

The documentary will be shown at 2 and 3:30 p.m.

Narrated by Cuba Gooding Jr., the film features interviews with former Secretary of State General Colin Powell and Congressman John Lewis, Union’s Commencement speaker in 2013.

Charles Evers, brother of slain civil rights icon Medgar Evers, recalls the absurdity of black soldiers being asked to fight for freedom while being denied it in their own army.

“My brother and I and all the other young negroes, we couldn’t stay in the same barracks with the white soldiers,” Evers says. “We couldn’t eat in the same dining hall with the white soldiers. We had all white officers.”

The documentary is named after a book co-authored in 2010 by Maria Höhn and Martin Klimke, A Breath of Freedom: The Civil Rights Struggle, African-American GIs, and Germany.

At 5 p.m., Höhn will lead a discussion of her book and the film.

Höhn teaches history at Vassar College and is an established scholar of the American military presence in Germany.

She is the co-founder and co-director of “The Civil Rights Struggle, African American GIs, and Germany” a digital archive and oral history collection that the NAACP honored in 2009 with the Julius E. Williams Distinguished Community Service Award.

Höhn has also served as a historical consultant and co-narrator for a number of television documentaries on the impact of the American military on Germany society, and the experience of African American GIs in that country.

She is the recipient of numerous grants and honors. Her essay, “The Black Panther Solidarity Committees and the Voice of the Lumpen,” was named best article in 2010 by the German Academic Exchange Service and the German Studies Association.