African American Trailblazers – Building the Alaska Highway

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During World War II, African American troops were denied active combat roles and, like their civilian counterparts, faced institutionalized segregation. Three units of African American engineers were sent to Alaska and Canada to construct the 1,500-mile ALCAN Highway, a key defense for the United States. They faced brutally cold weather conditions and, despite frequently outperforming the better-equipped white engineering units, continued discrimination. Their skill, grit, and perseverance paved a highway and a path toward desegregation of the military after the war.