Full Transcript: Reverend Darla Swint on Discriminatory Draft During the Vietnam War
Darla: And by that time, it was the early, early years of the Vietnam War. And if a young boy got into trouble of any type they were automatically forced to join the army. It wasn’t a matter of you having a diploma or anything of that nature, you were forced— they would give you two options: go into the army or go to juvenile, or if you were old enough to jail, jail time. So that’s how there were so many blacks in the military. It wasn’t that they were joining. They were being forced. In Hamtramck, I think almost every black male friend that I had that wasn’t athletic is now dead due to that war. Due to that war. I could, if you— in the Hamtramck park they have a Veteran’s memorial, and I think it’s by war. And if you go there you’ll see how the deaths of the blacks out weigh the deaths of the whites just here in Hamtramck. It was a pretty sad time for my generation. You know, because I can't tell you how many times we’d be sitting on the porch or walking down the street and there would always be a black government car that would come into the community to let the family know that one of their sons, or their son, had been killed in Vietnam. And they weren’t joining. They weren’t joining. So, there weren’t any jobs here for the blacks if they didn’t go into the factory, and a lot of them had seen how the factory had broken their fathers down even though the living for a black working in the factory was good. But the dad had no interactions with his family because of the work hours. So a lot of the young black men did not want that factory life— what, I’m trying...they had a name for the factory, I can’t think, I know they called it the plantation. They called the factory the plantation. And there was another name, nickname that they had put on it. So a lot of them that couldn’t get into college actually left, just to find a better way of living. And they didn’t come back. So, the black male population here in Hamtramck has constantly diminished. You know, and even now, I’m the Chairman of the NAACP, we do not have an active chapter because we— I can’t get enough blacks to join, because this is a different generation. And their value system is altogether different. I think the schools did a very poor job in these last two generations of schooling them on racial issues, on identity issues. So they have really no idea but if you walk Joseph Campau from Holbrook to Caniff, and go in any store, you will not find one of us. We’re not present, but we’re here. You know, so here we are again. What is that forty, fifty years later and we’re faced— we’re going through the same thing as a black community.