cover image Knocking Down Barriers: Fighting for Black America: A Memoir

Knocking Down Barriers: Fighting for Black America: A Memoir

Truman K. Gibson, Jr., Robert S. Huntley, Steve Huntley, with Steve Huntley. . Northwestern Univ., $21.95 (344pp) ISBN 978-0-8101-2292-5

Gibson's first claim to fame was as a civilian aide to the secretary of war during WWII, a position in which he fought for fair treatment of black servicemen and for an integrated military, and was influential in Truman's presidential order to desegregate the armed forces. In recounting this struggle, the bulk of his memoir, Gibson offers a veritable history of the black soldier, jam-packed with rich and revealing details of humiliation and heroism. Gibson had met Joe Louis in 1935 and organized team of boxers who entertained the troops with Louis as the anchor. Their "friendship matured," and Gibson found his second claim to fame in "a line of work I never dreamed I'd find myself in": a boxing promoter and officer of the International Boxing Club. While providing a fascinating glimpse of the multifaceted world he has lived in—one that encompasses directing the American Negro Exposition and fighting restrictive housing covenants in Hansberry v. Lee ; knowing Frank Capra, Frank Carbo, Gen. Benjamin O. Davis and Sugar Ray Robinson; helping Errol Flynn's widow with inheritance problems and Joe Louis with tax problems—Gibson's spare account of five of his nine decades makes a valuable contribution to military history. (Aug.)