‘The Blinding of Isaac Woodard’

‘The Blinding of Isaac Woodard’

On Mar. 30, PBS American Experience history series aired The Blinding of Isaac Woodard, an episode telling the story of one veteran's survival of racial violence at home sparked the beginning of the end of Jim Crow. 

The documentary is based on Richard M. Gergel’s book Unexampled Courage. The below is excerpted from the episode description:

In 1946, Isaac Woodard, a Black army sergeant on his way home to South Carolina after serving in WWII, was pulled from a bus for arguing with the driver. The local chief of police savagely beat him, leaving him unconscious and permanently blind. The shocking incident made national headlines and, when the police chief was acquitted by an all-white jury, the blatant injustice would change the course of American history. Based on Richard Gergel’s book Unexampled Courage, the film details how the crime led to the racial awakening of President Harry Truman, who desegregated federal offices and the military two years later. The event also ultimately set the stage for the Supreme Court’s landmark 1954 Brown v. Board of Education decision, which finally outlawed segregation in public schools and jumpstarted the modern civil rights movement.

The complete film can be streamed for free on the American Experience website or through the PBS Video App.

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