Journalist Wallace Terry's persistence paid off when, after 17 years, he got his book about the black experience in Vietnam published.
" `Bloods' was not an overnight success," Terry told an audience Thursday at Weber State College.Terry has worked for the Washington Post, the Indianapolis News, USA Today and Time magazine.
He was a reporter for the Washington Post when he went to Vietnam and interviewed black soldiers who were fighting in the unpopular war.
His conclusion in his book "Bloods," which was nominated for a Pulitzer Prize, was that the blacks carried extra burdens because of the color of their skin.
About 22 percent of those killed during the early war years were black, and 14 percent of those who died when the war was winding down were also black, Terry said.
The Communist Party of North Vietnam used blacks for propaganda purposes, which Terry said created a psychological burden for black soldiers.
And Terry said that while blacks were on the front line giving their lives for their country, blacks were not being promoted or given medals as often as white soldiers. "Blacks were discriminated against."
The author said that he came to the conclusion that the war plan was set up not in order to win the war, but to keep the money and the war machine moving.
"A black man was killing a yellow man for the profit of a white man," Terry said.
Terry said that he had to write a book about the black soldiers' role in Vietnam so the American people would never forget that the blacks were in the war to win the battle.
He pointed out that other books and movie portrayals of the Vietnam War and past wars give the impression that only white men win wars.
"I didn't want us to forget these black soldiers."
Getting the book published wasn't easy because he wanted to tell the story of an unpopular war, coupled with the division in this country during the civil rights movement. No publisher wanted to touch his book.
After 17 years and 119 rejections, Terry said he finally found a publisher, only to discover he had to do another year of rewriting.
"I would not let this go," he said. "Black soldiers made sacrifices."