Jenni Burrows GI Commission

1944 We Were Here: African American GIs in Dorset

'Black GIs met freedom and friendliness they had rarely encountered before in the company of white people'. (When Jim Crow met John Bull)

We live in a world where there are racial tensions and in Britain, we too have encountered this. The above comments, relating to the welcome from the British civilians of the 1940's are a wonderful testament to British young people and children today. Their great- grandparents and grandparents treated the African American GIs with kindness and respect. The African American GIs created a huge impression on the local community, their sacrifice and generosity impacted the local people and the different cultures worked and lived together.

'The most popular well-mannered, well-behaved, respectful, and soldierly warriors ever to land on English soil are your American Negro troops'. (Blacks in the Army Air Forces during World War II)

I wanted to illustrate the legacy that the GIs left behind through textiles, illustration and quotes. I have created four books to depict the lives of an African American GI's family through four generations to the present day.

Images from the 1944, We Were Here Exhibition at Walford Mill Craft Centre, Wimbourne Dorset:

Click to enlarge.....