Barrington resident and “Strength of Courage” author Alfred J. Dansbury will discuss his book at the Haddonfield library on Tuesday, Nov. 7, at 6:30 p.m.
Dansbury has a background in journalism as editor of the Camden Community News, a community newspaper in the city, during the 1970s. He wrote about social, economic and racial injustices in America, and later became a public-school English teacher and a reading and writing instructor at Camden County College.
Given that his grandparents had a long life in Haddonfield, Dansbury is a member of Preserving Black Haddonfield History Project, run by the Haddonfield Alumni Society. Although he isn’t a veteran, Dansbury interviewed a number of local vets in the area to get a sense of what it was like for African Americans to serve in World War II and the Korean War.
“Strength of Courage” was inspired by a friend of Dansbury’s who recounted stories during their fishing trips of his war experience. The protagonist of “Strength of Courage, a Black man named Sgt. David Henry, also recounts his war adventures during fishing trips with his fictional friend, Jim Reed.
“The more he told me about the different incidents, that was the spark …” Dansbury recalled. “And then when I actually started reading, researching about the wars and about the conditions of the African Americans serving in the military, the more I wanted to learn, because he (his fishing buddy) was in World War II.”
Library guests can expect to hear more from the author about the fictional Sgt. David Henry and what life was like for him before and during the military in the 1940s, when Blacks fought not only America’s enemies, but its racism at home.
“It was extremely hard for an African American to be in the military to begin with, and have to endure the attitudes and the racial hatred that was going on,” Dansbury noted. “So I describe that and also talk about the military engagements that he went through that occurred in the field, and how he had to endure those situations as well.”
In his book research, Dansbury learned that African Americans were “part of the military in every war this country has been in,” in spite of the discrimination they faced in a time when Blacks were often barred from home ownership, jobs and educational opportunities.
“I think people should delve as much as possible into historical events to be able to find out exactly why things are the way they are,” the author observed. “Because if you look at what happened to my character in the military, that’s just a microcosm of the country at the time.”
Dansbury hopes his book will inspire people not to give up.
“Whether there’s illness or disasters in their lives, or something they’re trying to achieve in life,” he said, “I’d like the book to inspire them to continue to fight and succeed with whatever they’re trying to do in life.”
To register for the library talk, visit https://www.haddonfieldlibrary.org/.