On this edition of In Black America, producer/host John L. Hanson Jr. speaks with J. Paul Montgomery.
From the orange groves in Florida in the 1940's to the U.S. Army in the 1950's through the 1980's, Montgomery fought prejudice for being a dark-complexioned African American man, even within his own family.
His U.S. Army service in communications/operations and recruitment took him from Florida to Hawaii, Thailand, Germany, Vietnam, and Korea, as well as several stateside army posts—a career that eventually ended with a diagnosis of depression and posttraumatic stress. The book details his exploits, musings, and heartaches as he makes his journey through a fascinating life.
For Montgomery, life growing up in Clermont, Florida was no easy task. Deep down he knew he didn’t want to work in the groves for any extended period. Mind games were his greatest pastime and he seldom played with any of his five brothers, or anyone else for that matter. He wanted to be an airplane pilot in the U.S. Army.
Montgomery’s story is a compelling, unvarnished self-portrait of an African American veteran in the fullest sense of the word. It’s a story of a boy coming of age during the Jim Crow era, a soldier and recruiter for the Army, who would spend twenty-five years in the service and would later become an ordained reverend and founder of the nonprofit Churches Organized to Assist (AKA) ‘Hero’s – to expose African American youth to become community heroes and provide positive role models for them.