||Deton G. Brooks. Jr., Writes For Defender |
By S/Sgt. Edgar Laytha Roundup Field Correspondent
One of 15 Negro War Scribes
BURMA-Deton G. Brooks, Jr., Jack to his friends, represents the Chicago Defender, the influential Negro newspaper in this neck of the war. He is one of 15 Negro war correspondents roaming the world battlefronts, and the only one in the Far East. The Defender, whose staff includes eight of these overseas reporters, has a circulation of 300.000 and in addition, Jack's feature articles are syndicated to other Negro newspapers throughout the nation.
Jack likes to write about the colored truck convoyers and Quartermasters. But, all this is only part of his duty. The readers of the Defender, Brooks is very emphatic about this, are interested in the Far East as a whole; they want to know the general trend of events and its political and economic implications upon the future, Jack reports this trend. You see him in Burma everywhere. One day he flies over the Jap lines on a leaflet-dropping mission and writes about psychological warfare. Another day he visits the forward echelon of the British 36th Division or studies the combat qualities of the Chinese.
STOP THE PRESS
Since S/Sgt, Edgar Laytha's article reached the Roundup office,
a second Negro war correspondent has arrived in the I-B Theater.
He is tall, soft-spoken Frank E. Bolden, representing the National
Negro Press Association Bolden was station in the Persian Gulf Command
before coming here. He is now en route to the Assam Burma area--The Editor.
Jack Brooks was a professor of mathematics at the Du Sable High School in Chicago before he became a war correspondent. Simultaneously, he was the political analyst of the Defender, assistant to its editor and a special researcher on the legal aspects of neutrality at the University of Chicago, his alma mater. Jack holds the M.A.C. in International Relations and the B.S. in mathematics. He made his living, while a student at the University of Chicago, by being alternatively the manager of a movie theater and "Special Messenger to the President of Chicago's Union Tank Car Co." In between, he spent a couple of months at West Point, but had to leave because of athlete's heart. He is 35, married, prematurely grey, jovial and a good poker player.
Before he came to this neck of the war last September, Jack traveled through the Caribbean writing a series of articles on social conditions in Puerto Rico, which, while a very small place, Jack thinks has problems as complex as those of a larger country. Rexford Tugwell, Governor of Puerto Rico, impressed him greatly by his sincerity and loyalty to the President, even after he had been dropped from Cabinet office.
Brooks met many other celebrities in his professional career. He interviewed Mrs. Roosevelt at a large Negro rally in Chicago. The "candid way" in which The First Lady answered questions made him wonder often. She handles all questions so darned rapidly, Jack says, that it keeps a correspondent constantly on his toes and very often out of breath.
Madame Chiang Kai-shek was interviewed by Jack Brooks at a press conference at the Drake Hotel in Chicago. Brooks asked her whether she had any message to the Negro people of the United States. "I have the same message to the Negro people, " replied Madame diplomatically, "as to all other people of the United States." Since America was a democracy, Madame saw no reason why any particular group "had to be singled out for special felicitations."
Jack personally knows, of course, Paul Robeson, Canada Lee and also Lena Horne. He met Lena in Hollywood just a few days before he sailed for India. He asked her whether she would be willing to entertain in the Far East. If she were asked, assured Lena, she hoped it would be possible. Many of the colored boys along the Ledo Road have asked Jack about Lena Horne, and he still hopes to greet her in this part of the world.
Now, this is what Jack himself thinks about The Road, the colored G.I.'s in the India-Burma Theater, post-war possibilities of Negro soldiers, the duration of the war and of life in general.
The Ledo Road is not only a Negro epic. It is an American epic in which the non-Negro Americans played just as an important part as the colored boys. They worked side by side and learned to respect their individual achievements.
The Colored G.I:
The Negro soldier, like any other American boy is trying to get the darned thing over as soon possible and get home. This is the reason why he is doing his part so efficiently. Negroes are very proud of the contributions they have made, and they. are very anxious that they receive full credit at home.
The colored farm boys of the South have learner the use of heavy machine equipment and certainly they would want to transfer their abilities into better jobs. Naturally, they are very much concerned about their postwar possibilities but hope to take advantage of jobs being rented for all G.I.s.
Lastly, The Duration:
Jack is out of touch with European events, but predicts a two-year war with Japan after the defeat of Germany. He has no philosophy of war, none of life. Jack is just interested in life and in this interest he finds its meaning.