In Fayetteville, no welcome mat for Colin Powell

“Their worldly possessions jammed into the back of his Volkswagen, Colin [Powell] and his pregnant wife were on their way to Fort Bragg. [In 1962] there was no on-base married housing for temporary, Vietnam-bound trainees; they planned to rent a furnished house or apartment in Fayetteville….

“After a frustrating day of house hunting, the Powells concluded that there were no middle-class rental accommodations available for blacks in Fayetteville. All Army posts were well integrated by the mid-1950s, but military desegregation meant nothing when black soldiers ventured outside the gates, particularly in the South. At dinner that night at the home of a friend… Colin’s anger rose as he related their experience with local real estate agents.

” ‘You talk to people on the phone,’ and everything’s fine, he said. ‘Then you walk in and they see you’re black, and immediately they’ve got a section of town they’re going to take you to.’ Among the several offerings had been an empty shack in the middle of an overgrown field that had been turned into a trash dump.”

— From “Soldier: The Life of Colin Powell” by Karen DeYoung (2006)

The Powells ended up spending the next six weeks in a children’s room (with bunk beds) at their friend’s Army duplex.

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