By George Lipsitz
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Extra resources for A Life In The Struggle: Ivory Perry and the Culture of Opposition
But when MacArthur moved his forces toward the Chinese border, China entered the war and its troops confronted the Twenty-fourth Regiment and other American units with some of the most ferocious fighting of the entire conflict. 6 Combat service in Korea meant battling the enemy and the brutal Korean climate, but Ivory Perry and other black soldiers also had to contend with white racism within their own army. Segregated into all-black units under the supervision of white officers, they accumulated a list of grievances about their treatment.
The cabs connected people on the outskirts of town with friends and relatives in the city at a time when few black people in Pine Bluff owned automobiles. On more than one occasion they provided a radio-dispatched fleet of cars descending on the scene of potential racial violence to remove black people from possible physical danger. But their most important contribution was providing a base of support for civil rights activism. Wiley and Leo Branton's grandmother waged a fight to get black people to vote against funds for a new library Copyrighted Material PINE BLUFF 35 because city officials announced that only whites would be able to use it.
Political action requires risk and presumes that short-term sacrifices will yield long-term benefits. But most poor people have no assurance that there will be a long run for them, and regardless of their sympathies, they often cannot afford to think about political change. Ivory Perry came to feel that social change had to touch the lives of people on the bottom of society to really make a difference, and that in order to reach these people it had to begin with their everyday needs and concerns.