ABOVE PHOTO: Isaac Woodard, Jr. escorted by Joe Louis and unidentified man, 1946
By Christina L. Myers
COLUMBIA, S.C. The brutality inflicted against decorated African-American World War II veteran Sgt. Isaac Woodard by a Southern police chief is credited with inspiring President Harry Truman to integrate the military in 1948, but few people know Woodward’s name.
After being honorably discharged from the Army, Woodard was removed from a Greyhound bus in Batesburg, South Carolina, and beaten by a White police chief.
It left the war veteran permanently blind.
Now, Woodard’s supporters are seeking to erect a civil rights marker in his honor in South Carolina. They say his ferocious beating helped draw U.S. attention to the discrimination and mistreatment of blacks returning home from war.
Historians say Woodard’s case and the outcry it prompted drove the first cracks into American segregation years ahead of the civil rights era.