“You must be the puniest nigger I’ve ever seen, boy. What’s your name again?”
“Johnson, Samuel G., Private, Sir.”
Sam Johnson was the most unlikely soldier in his unit, but then again, he would have been an unlikely soldier in any army in the world. He’d suffered from a number of ailments in childhood including rheumatic fever. His family was poor. Papa died when he was only a baby and Mama had to work three jobs just to keep him fed. They had no money for doctors and his old Aunt Bessie said it was only Mama’s love that kept him alive.
He grew up but not very much. He was tall, but thin, his clothes fitting him like loose blankets. Because of his ill-health, he wasn’t fit for much hard work, but what he lacked in muscle, he made up for in heart and determination.
Like most colored folk, he expected the white folk to call him “nigger,” “coon,” and the like, and he took more than his fair share of beatings, not just because he was a colored man, but because he fought back. To say he fought back meant that he had the will, but he could no more throw a solid punch than Josephine Baker could win the Miss America Pagent.